Stop Wasting Time! 5 Steps to Automate Your Google Analytics Reporting | Benchmark Search Conference 2018

Stop Wasting Time! 5 Steps to Automate Your Google Analytics Reporting

Reasons to start report automation

Do you regularly find yourself spending long hours manually extracting data cutting and pasting to create reports? Do you often have to repeat the whole thing, time and time again? If you have grown to love data crunching numbers and creating reports can be a tedious process.
I’ve never seen anybody who likes doing the same things over and over again. So is there a better way to do this?

Yes, there is. And it’s called automation.

I strongly believe that report automation allows companies to have more control over process and data and, therefore, better efficiency, as the highly qualified people involved in the report creation process have additional time to focus on more valuable tasks.

Who is John Warner?

John Warner is an internal marketer at Click Consult where he spends his time accruing industry certifications, tinkering with code, plotting strategy and writing articles on all aspects of search marketing.

John Warner at the Benchmark Search Conference 2018
John Warner at the Benchmark Search Conference 2018

While having a master’s degree in creative writing and a background predominately in content, John Warner has found himself drawn to the technical side of SEO – developing a passion for data, research, interactivity, artificial intelligence and voice search.

John features regularly on a number of leading search marketing blogs, including regular articles for SEMRush, State of Digital and on the Click Consult blog, he also contributions to the quarterly magazine ‘Benchmark Search Marketing’, occasionally hosts the ‘on.click’ podcast and has spoken at a number of leading UK conferences.

Who’s behind Benchmark?

Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi-award-winning search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). With over 70 professionals employed and a portfolio of over 60 clients from across the UK, Click Consult works with businesses looking for a measurable return from their search marketing budget.

Click Consult also provides a range of other services, including content marketing, inbound marketing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO), as well as international and multilingual search. The company is Google AdWords and Microsoft adExcellence certified and is on the Recommended Agency Register.

The Sunday Talk – BrightonSEO 2018

BrightonSEO


Guys, check your calendar. 24th of September. The BrightonSEO week has finally arrived. Top digital marketers are going to Brighton this Friday. I don’t even know where to start. Nick Wilsdon from Vodafone, Dawn Anderson, Gerry White, Rand Fishkin, Emily Grossman, Arianne, Francois from OnCrawl. Oh my God, I lost my breath talking.

I’ve said it before but I will say it again: Now is the time to ask the questions.
If you’ve got a burning digital marketing question in your head check the schedule, find the relevant person, invite him for a coffee, pint, cake.

Guys, you are not going to the cinema. You are going to a digital marketing conference where you can actually interact with the person on stage.

Stop watching, ask the questions and start doing.

What Is Content Marketing?

So Omi, how do you describe content marketing? Well, in my opinion, is the process of learning how to speak the language of your customers. But don’t forget your customers may talk in a different language on Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn.

On top of that because of new technologies or new trends, the way your customers search for your products, the way the customers interact with your products online is constantly changing too.
So you have to keep on learning new languages.

After all, nobody will buy your products online if they don’t know what you are talking about.

BrightonSEO 2018 Takeaways

BrightonSEO Stars
BrightonSEO Stars

Is it just me or this BrightonSEO was the best BrightonSEO ever? The speaker’s lineup simply blew me away. So what’s my key takeaway from this conference? Well, this BrightonSEO cemented my idea that we have to seriously start implementing machine learning in our workflow.

I know that machine learning is still in its infancy and has not yet fundamentally changed the SEO landscape. As time goes on, however, SEOs who choose to turn a blind eye to machine learning will definitely be left behind.

Who else gonna be left behind? People who don’t follow me on social media. So with that in mind don’t forget to come back here next Sunday cause you’ve got the problems and I’ve got the solutions.

The Future of SEO is on the SERP | BrightonSEO 2018

The Future of SEO is on the SERP

What’s the Future of SEO?

The good news is: the number of searches on Google keeps growing.

The bad news is: decreasing clickthrough rates on organic results ( especially in mobile), fewer big companies are dominating the world’s Google search results and more results answered entirely in Google’s SERPs.

As Google answers a higher and higher percent of queries in the results themselves and refers out less traffic to websites, we’re all gonna have to think about how we influence search audiences through what Google shows rather than just focusing on driving traffic to our own sites.

A big part of SEO’s future will be on the SERP rather than driving traffic to websites.

Who is Rand Fishkin?

Rand Fishkin is the founder of SparkToro and was previously co-founder of Moz and Inbound.org.
He’s dedicated his professional life to helping people do better marketing through the Whiteboard Friday video series, his blog, and his book, Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World.

Rand Fishkin - Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World
Rand Fishkin – Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World

About BrightonSEO

BrightonSEO – is a major search marketing event in the UK. One of our favourite events of the year, This is a superb conference for search marketing professionals, novice or expert.

BrightonSEO is a chance to learn from some of the best minds in search, and then rub shoulders with them at one of the friendliest, and largest, gatherings of Digital Marketers in Europe.

Why attend BrightonSEO?

BrightonSEO

The benefits of attending SEO conferences for small businesses

Guys, do you happen to run a small business? Today’s market can be very challenging for small businesses since you’ll need to compete directly with a lot of big corporations.

While it may not be possible to get an edge over your competition through television or radio ads, the internet can help you level the playing field.

By utilising search engine optimisation techniques, you will be able to increase your online visibility, expand your customer base, and, and boost your profits.

So why attend BrightonSEO?

SEO conferences are great places to gather more information about new technology. Many of the speakers will have direct access to technology and search engine optimisation methods as soon as they are available.

In fact, many of these individuals will be directly involved in designing and creating the technology. If you are interested in staying on top of technology and SEO techniques, you should seriously consider attending BrightonSEO.

It is absolutely pertinent to understand that SEO is constantly evolving, so you’ll always need to stay well informed up to date.

SEO is a Small Business Necessity
SEO Is A Small Business Necessity

Meanwhile, if you see me at BrightonSEO don’t be shy. Come and say hi. Ask, ask the questions. You know me. You’ve got the problems and I’ve got the solutions.

See you soon, guys. Peace.

How to Keep Your Cool and Switch a Major Brand Online in Only 5 Weeks | Benchmark Search Conference 2018

How to Keep Your Cool and Switch a Major Brand Online in Only 5 Weeks

Keeping your cool, especially during stressful situations, is one of the most important attributes of a good leader.

Even if you always try to do your best to stay cool, inevitably there will be times when you feel emotional at work. Usually, this happens when the stakes are high or you feel strongly about something — that you’re the right person to take on a big new project, that you deserve a promotion or that you’ve been treated unfairly by a colleague, for example.

The best thing to do in those moments is to be prepared beforehand, so your emotional reactions and impulses don’t take control. Determine who in your company is best to approach, set up a meeting in advance and make sure you’re clear on your agenda. Write down your strongest points on a piece of paper you can refer to if needed — then walk in and hold your head high.

Who is Kristal Ireland?

Kristal Ireland is an award-winning, strategic and experienced digital and technology expert. Experienced public speaker on all things digital and technology with a passion for AI and all things transformative.

Kristal Ireland at the Benchmark Search Conference
Kristal Ireland at the Benchmark Search Conference

Previously voted as one of the UK’s Top 30 Women in Digital Under 30 by The Drum Magazine. A specialist in Digital Transformation, E-commerce and Digital Brand Strategy she has worked with some of the major UK and international clients to build their brands online.

Passionate about all forms of marketing but with a specialism in digital marketing including; Website Design and Development, Mobile, E-commerce website design and management, SEO, PPC, Social Media, Email Marketing, Online Analytics packages, Customer Journey Analysis and Customer Relationship Management.

Kristal Ireland’s Top Tips For Survival

  • Acknowledge, accept and respect people’s emotions.
  • Select, energise and cement your A-Team.
  • Accept help… Even if it’s painful
  • Be clear and consistent on MVP … Communicate to senior stakeholders what this is and manage expectations.
  • Plan, Plan and re Plan… Also, Plan what happens if you fail (because you might).
  • Don’t sack your agencies … They are part of your team.
  • Celebrate success at every opportunity.
  • Tea, Cake, Gin.

Who’s behind Benchmark?

Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi-award-winning search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). With over 70 professionals employed and a portfolio of over 60 clients from across the UK, Click Consult works with businesses looking for a measurable return from their search marketing budget.

Click Consult also provides a range of other services, including content marketing, inbound marketing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO), as well as international and multilingual search. The company is Google AdWords and Microsoft adExcellence certified and is on the Recommended Agency Register.

Benchmark Search Conference 2018 | How to Grow a Niche Audience Using Video Content

How to Grow a Niche Audience Using Video Content


We all know that having a tightly focused business online that appeals to a small audience in a specific niche can be very rewarding (and indeed profitable). Getting to that point, however, is difficult.

Niche businesses online, almost by definition, aren’t very popular. They appeal to a specific subgroup of internet users, and that group can be very small. A site that’s all about using VoiceOver on the iPhone to help the elderly in their daily lives will not appeal to young people by default. So is a site about selling old vinyl discs.
These are the kinds of niche businesses that don’t have broad appeal. And it’s easy to disregard them as not as important, or not as successful, as more broadly focused sites that attract millions of readers.

But there is an important difference between the audiences at these sites.

Regular visitors to niche websites are more likely to be very committed to those sites.

Why? Because they answer exactly the questions that those people are asking or they sell the specific product searchers are looking for. Let’s go back to the selling old vinyl discs idea. If you regularly look for information on this topic, you might find only a few articles here and there on selling, buying or preserving old vinyl discs.

That direct appeal generates a lot of loyalty. And that’s why niche businesses are so important.

And then it comes video.

Some companies like Cisco predict that by the year 2021 almost 82% of all internet traffic will be video traffic.

It is very clear that people want someone to both show them and tell them the information they’re looking for, instead of having to read it.

Who is Lee Wilcox?

An enthusiast of all things tech and social media related – Lee Wilcox is the 33-year-old co-founder and CEO of On the Tools.
In the space of three years ‘On the Tools’ has become the biggest Construction Community in the world with over 2 million followers across their social media channels.
Lee Wilcox also consults for brands in the construction industry on their social media strategy.

Lee Wilcox at the Benchmark Search Conference
Lee Wilcox at the Benchmark Search Conference

“I’m a very work orientated person with a ‘healthy’ obsession of Social Media, a lover of technology and a keen interest in company culture and the ideology of having the right to an enjoyable workplace.

As CEO of On the Tools, I believe it to be my responsibility to ensure the happiness and welfare of everyone at the organisation. We have to spend so much time at work that it needs to be a place that people feel safe, trusted and valued. My mission is to create a culture and environment that people can flourish in and ultimately never feel that ‘Monday morning’ feeling ever again.”

Who’s behind Benchmark?

Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi-award-winning search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). With over 70 professionals employed and a portfolio of over 60 clients from across the UK, Click Consult works with businesses looking for a measurable return from their search marketing budget.

Click Consult also provides a range of other services, including content marketing, inbound marketing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO), as well as international and multilingual search. The company is Google AdWords and Microsoft adExcellence certified and is on the Recommended Agency Register.

Benchmark Search Conference 2018 | Let’s do AI – How Artificial Intelligence is Amplifying Human and Also Marketing Ingenuity – Today

How Artificial Intelligence is Amplifying Human and Also Marketing Ingenuity


Artificial intelligence (AI) already touches some form of your life every day. From smarter web searches to e-commerce recommendations to voice assistants – AI is integrated into how you live, work, and communicate in the world. It’s the standard by which you evaluate your digital interactions with brands – expecting that every touchpoint will be as easy and intelligent as ordering paper towels from Alexa or finding what you were searching for on Google in your top three search results.

On the other hand, even at its most powerful, artificial intelligence doesn’t replace human intelligence, it simply helps people do what they love better and faster while opening the door to new and exciting ways to experiment, test, and learn from customers to create dramatically improved experiences.

Who is Ellie England?

Passionate about search, women in technology and making a lasting impact, Ellie England began her career in sales working in an inner-city secondary school ‘selling’ the importance of modern languages to disaffected teenagers. She got into the world of search working for Google for 6 years, before eventually relocating to Manchester and joining Microsoft.

Ellie England at the Benchmark Search Conference
Ellie England at the Benchmark Search Conference

As a Sales Director for Bing Ads, Ellie has been spearheading the continued investment in the North of the UK and leads a growing team of search account managers.

Who’s behind Benchmark?

Located in North West England, Click Consult is a multi-award-winning search marketing agency with a focus on organic (SEO) and paid search (PPC). With over 70 professionals employed and a portfolio of over 60 clients from across the UK, Click Consult works with businesses looking for a measurable return from their search marketing budget.

Click Consult also provides a range of other services, including content marketing, inbound marketing and conversion rate optimisation (CRO), as well as international and multilingual search. The company is Google AdWords and Microsoft adExcellence certified and is on the Recommended Agency Register.

The Sunday Talk – Benchmark Search Conference 2018

The Sunday Talk – The Benchmark Search Conference


Monday, 3rd of September. So the conference season has officially started. Between now and Christmas I’m gonna be attending a conference or a roundtable almost every single week. This week I am going to the Benchmark Search Conference in Manchester organised by Click Consult and I am super excited.
How often do you see Nick Wilsdon, Kristal Ireland, Bas, Fili and Lukasz Zelezny in the same room?
If I was them I will call it ‘Digital Marketing Heaven’. Do you want to go to the Digital Marketing Heaven? Come to our conference.

Adapt or Die (Digital Marketing is Adaptation)

One thing that SEO taught me over the years is ‘Adapt or Die‘. And I really don’t understand why people are crying about House of Fraiser. Now, let’s be honest. When the Internet came along House of Fraiser was rich and powerful. But House of Fraiser didn’t respect the new reality. And the new reality is digital. Everything digital. Digital is really changing the way people live. So let me give you one more example. And it’s very recent as well.

Yesterday I am coming back from Portugal, my holiday in Portugal and my neighbour sees me reading a book about Artificial intelligence. And he is like ‘Because of people like you a lot of people gonna lose their job’. So I just looked at him, he was holding an iPhone watching a movie and I was like ‘Because of people like you a lot of people at Nokia already lost their job. Why didn’t you stick to Nokia?’ And he just looked at me and he was like ‘I know what you mean. I am sorry.’
See people wanting to better their life is not something new and digital…

I just had a lengthy conversation online so let me summarise it. We are a society driven by digital technology. Let’s look around us. Let’s be honest with ourselves. There are countries out there where citizens don’t have running water but they own smartphones.

If your brand wants to be successful now and in the foreseeable future you need to invest in digital platforms and digital talent in order to stay ahead of your competitors.

Some people wish it would happen, others make it happen.

On my way to Benchmark Search Conference in Manchester. In front of me is Euston station and behind me here is the building where I made this crucial decision to stop doing front-end development and jump into digital marketing. At the time the idea was…it looked a bit crazy. Everybody was like ‘Omi you are crazy. Don’t do it. You’ve got a bright future in front-end development but I’ve decided to do what I love anyway…
Only time will tell if I was right.

I can accept failure. But I can't accept not trying.
I can accept failure. But I can’t accept not trying.

Yeah, I am in Manchester. I am in Manchester and I am seriously lost. Google Maps just doesn’t work here. It’s just throwing me in all directions. I am sure the hotel is over there but it’s telling me that it’s like 40 minutes away. And it’s almost 10 O’Clock.

Finally arrived and the hotel, the room, everything is just perfect. Ok, this is my room but have a look at the view. Oh my god, it’s just beautiful.

It’s a bit too late for food now so managed to find an open Tesco and bought a bunch of bananas.2, 4, 6 and a bottle of orange juice. Can’t wait for my breakfast tomorrow.

Actually, I know it’s 12 O’Clock but probably I should go and visit Dawn Anderson. Maybe she can give me some food.

Benchmark Search Conference

Benchmark Search Conference 2018
Benchmark Search Conference 2018

Ellie England

Ellie England, Sales Director, Bing Ads.
‘Let’s do AI – How Artificial Intelligence is Amplifying Human and Also Marketing Ingenuity – Today.’

Passionate about search, women in technology and making a lasting impact, Ellie England began her career in sales working in an inner-city secondary school ‘selling’ the importance of modern languages to disaffected teenagers. She got into the world of search working for Google for 6 years, before eventually relocating to Manchester and joining Microsoft.
As a Sales Director for Bing Ads, Ellie England has been spearheading the continued investment in the North of the UK and leads a growing team of search account managers.

Kristal IrelandKristal Ireland, Head of E-commerce and Retail Technology, London North Eastern Railway
‘5 Weeks to Make It – How to Keep Your Cool and Switch a Major Brand Online in Only 5 Weeks’

Previously voted as one of the UK’s Top 30 Women in Digital Under 30. A specialist in Social Media and Digital Brand Strategy, Kristal Ireland is an award-winning, strategic and experienced digital marketing expert.
A regular digital conference speaker and industry commentator Kristal Ireland has worked in digital for over a decade developing digital solutions for some of the UK’s biggest brands.

Dave KarellenDave Karellen, Head of Paid Search, Click Consult
‘Machine Learning: Friend or Foe?’

Dave Karellen has been with Click since 2011 and heads up the Paid Search (PPC) team as well as taking responsibility for key PPC accounts. Developing best practice, delivering PPC training and liaising directly with clients are also core elements of his role.
Dave’s extensive Excel knowledge has seen him develop a range of PPC optimisation and reporting tools. A further strength is high-level data analysis, developed while studying for a Master’s Degree in Mathematics.

Sabrina GarufiSabrina Garufi, Agency Development Manager, Google
‘Marketing in the Age of Assistance’

Sabrina Garufi is currently an Agency Development Manager at Google, helping UK agencies on all aspects of their digital activity, with a particular emphasis on growth.
Prior to working with agencies, Sabrina Garufi was a Consultant for the specialised Global Expansions Team, helping Google’s largest advertisers craft and execute their international expansion strategies.

With a background in Finance, Sabrina Garufi began her career in banking, working for five years as a Corporate Cash Manager. A native of Montreal, she completed her MBA in Berlin before moving to Dublin to join Google.

Fili WieseFili Wiese, SEO Expert, SearchBrothers.com
‘Optimising for Search Bots’

Fili Wiese is a renowned technical SEO expert, ex-Google engineer and was a senior technical lead in the Google Search Quality team.
At SearchBrothers.com he offers SEO consulting services with SEO audits, SEO workshops and successfully recovers websites from Google penalties.

John WarnerJohn Warner, Marketing and Content Executive, Click Consult
‘Stop Wasting Time! 5 Steps to Automate Your Google Analytics Reporting’

John Warner is an internal marketer at Click Consult where he spends his time accruing industry certifications, tinkering with code, plotting strategy and writing articles on all aspects of search marketing.

While having a master’s degree in creative writing and a background predominately in content, John Warner has found himself drawn to the technical side of SEO – developing a passion for data, research, interactivity, artificial intelligence and voice search.

John Warner features regularly on a number of leading search marketing blogs, including regular articles for SEMRush, State of Digital and on the Click Consult blog, he also contributions to the quarterly magazine ‘Benchmark Search Marketing’, occasionally hosts the ‘on.click’ podcast and has spoken at a number of leading UK conferences.

Nick WilsdonNick Wilsdon, Search Product Owner, Vodafone
‘Understanding Alexa Skills: How to Add Amazon’s Market-Leading Device Into Your Current and Future Marketing Strategy’

Nick Wilsdon started his online career in 1998, giving his first SEO seminar two years later in Brighton. After moving to Moscow, he became an expert on Russian search, working with gaming clients across CIS markets. During this time he was involved in the Russian start-up community, working with Yandex, RF parliament members and the US State Department.

Since his return to the UK, Nick has held head of department roles at Arena Media, part of the Havas Media Group and within the Dentsu Aegis network. As the SEO lead at Vodafone Group, he is standardising and improving online performance across 22 markets and 55 partner markets. He is particularly interested in mobile SEO, cross-channel campaigns and joining up the dots in a logical way.

The Sunday Talk

Now that I am back in London I wanna tell you something. The Benchmark Search Conference is becoming one of my favourite conferences. On one side this conference is big enough to attract good, quality speakers. On the other side, it’s not that big so people can still have this intimate, one-to-one connection with the speakers and the other attendees.

Talking about connections to everybody who sent me a private message on LinkedIn. I promise you I’m gonna answer your message. But saying that last time I checked I had 129 unanswered messages. So please, please be patient.
While you are waiting to talk to me don’t forget to come back here next week cause you’ve got the problems and I’ve got the solutions.

Structured Data Explained | Search Elite SEO Conference

Structured Data Explained


As a digital marketer, you might have heard about structured data, JSON-LD or Structured Data Testing Tool. But what is structured data and what do these terms mean exactly? What does structured data do? Why should you implement it and what does it have to do with SEO? For all of you who don’t know what structured data is: this video will make it clear to you!

This is a no-hype session focuses on SEO tips that will help you move the needle. No complex theory but highly actionable SEO tips.
This session will have SEO tips for all levels of experience. Join ex-Google engineer Fili Wiese to learn all about structured data and how to make it work for you and avoid common pitfalls.

Who is Fili Wiese?

Fili Wiese is a well-known technical SEO expert. Fili is an ex-Google engineer and was part of the Google Search Quality team. At SearchBrothers.com he offers SEO consulting services with SEO audits, SEO workshops and successfully recovers websites from Google penalties.

Fili Wiese
Fili Wiese

What is Search Elite?

Search marketing continues to be the biggest and most powerful form of digital marketing. Search Elite is a conference designed exclusively for experienced search marketers. All the sessions are fast-paced, Q&A-packed, always informative and delivering the most forward-thinking digital strategies and tactics.

Hreflang Attribute – International SEO

Hreflang Attribute

Very often proud owners of multi-language websites come to me asking me the same question: Why Google can’t correctly understand the geographic focus of my website pages? Why is my English page competing with my French page in Europe? Why is my American page outranking my English page in the UK?

The answer to these questions is always very simple. When it comes to international multi-language websites in order to help your language/regionally targeted content rank and also to avoid duplicate content you have to implement the hreflang link-attribute (the so-called rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” link-attribute).

Hreflnag and SEO
Hreflnag and SEO

Simply put, by using the hreflang attribute you can make sure that the Googlebot knows that the content on your pages is also available in other languages and that a URL with hreflang=”fr” is for users in France and Google has to serve the French version instead of the English version.

Note: Do not specify a country code by itself as Google can’t automatically establish the language from the country code. On the other side, you can only specify a language code by itself.

What is the Hreflang Attribute?

The Hreflang Tag is an HTML meta element that was first introduced by the Internet Engineering Task Force in 2010. The Hreflang Tag specifies language and regional targeting for documents online.

What does the hreflang tag look like?

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-GB” href=”http://example.com/page/” />

Explaining this markup is easy. Rel=”alternate” simply tells Google that there is another URL with the same content but in a different language. The first two letters after the hreflang part of the markup specify the language. The last two letter specify the country and the URL indicates which page the tag applies to – in this case, the English homepage.

Straight away it’s quite obvious that “en-GB” is the most important part of the code. This part tells Google that the page in question is in English (en) and it has to be served in the United Kingdom (GB).

Hreflang Attribute
Hreflang Attribute

In order for Google to understand your code, you have to use the ISO 639-1 format for language codes but you can also get more definitive by using the ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format to inform Google which region you’re targeting.

Note: Looking at the example above tells you straight away that not all of the country codes are intuitive (the code for the UK is ‘gb’, not ‘uk’ as ‘uk‘ is for Ukraine), so be very careful before implementing the wrong code all over your website.

Although using the Hreflang Attribute Tag is an essential part of any SEO geo-targeting strategy, it is not the ‘magic bullet’ for website internationalisation. Apart from the correct rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x” markup on the website, Google also takes other factors into account when trying to understand the language and the country for a website page.

The following elements ( in no particular order) are also used by Google in order to determine the geo-location target of a website:

  • Country code top-level domains (ccTLDs).
  • The language of the website.
  • Search Console geo-targeting settings.
  • Backlinks coming from specific geo-locations.
  • The server location of the website.
  • Currency and address formats displayed on the website.

How do I correctly implement Hreflang tags on my website?

For a start, there are three ways of implementing the Hreflang Tags?

In the <head> of your page, e.g.

<head>
<title>Hello! My name is Omi Sido</title>
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en-gb/" hreflang="en-gb" />
<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en-au/" hreflang="en-au" />
</head>

In the HTTP header of your documents, e.g.

Link: <https://example.com/en-gb/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="en-gb",
      <https://example.com/en-au/>; rel="alternate"; hreflang="en-au"

Note: Unless this is the only viable implementation method I normally don’t recommend implementing hreflang in the HTTP headers. When reviewing a page, many SEO/digital marketing tools will look at the source code but not the HTTP headers so this tag is significantly more likely to be overlooked.

In an XML sitemap, e.g.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
  xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
  <url>
    <loc>https://example.com/en-gb/</loc>
    <xhtml:link 
               rel="alternate"
               hreflang="en-au"
               href="https://example.com/en-au/"/>
    <xhtml:link 
               rel="alternate"
               hreflang="en-gb"
               href="https://example.com/en-gb/"/>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>https://example.com/en-au/</loc>
    <xhtml:link 
               rel="alternate"
               hreflang="en-au"
               href="https://example.com/en-au/"/>
    <xhtml:link 
               rel="alternate"
               hreflang="en-gb"
               href="https://example.com/en-gb/"/>
  </url>
</urlset>

The markup above is only for two URLs so you gonna need a lot of output to do this for a lot of URLs but on the other side using sitemaps for hreflang will help you to avoid bloating your HTML markup and HTTP headers.

Note: I would strongly recommend to choose only one of these methods, and to not mix implementations.

When to use the x-default Hreflang Tag?

Note: The x-default tag is optional. You will not break your hreflang tags implementation if the x-default is not there.

X-default hreflang example

<link rel="alternate" href="https://example.com/en/page/" hreflang="x-default" />

With that in mind, the x-default hreflang tag is used to state the default version of your page for searches outside of your specified hreflang tags. For example, if you specify hreflang tags for en-gb and en-ca, but Google thinks your page is also relevant for an English query in Australia, specifying the x-default tag will inform Google which page version they should send searchers to.

Another way to explain the x-default hreflang tag is: a special hreflang tag that specifies where a searcher should be sent if none of the languages you’ve specified in your other hreflang links matches their browser settings.
So in this example href=”https://example.com/en/page/” hreflang=”x-default”, if a searcher is looking for your page in Macedonia and you don’t have a ‘Macedonian hreflang tag’ on your page Google will server the English version of this page.

The Hreflang and rel=canonical brotherhood

From an SEO point of view, I am a big fan of the rel=”canonical” tag and it can and should be used with your Hreflang Tag markup. But “here’s the catch. Every language should have a rel=”canonical” link pointing to itself.

So if we are on the home page (English) of our website the code should look like this:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://example.com/en/">
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en/"
hreflang="en" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/"
hreflang="en-gb" />

And if we are on the ‘UK homepage’ the code should be:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://example.com/en-gb/">
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en/"
hreflang="en" />
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb/"
hreflang="en-gb" />

Very often I see the mistake where people are setting the canonical on the en-gb page to http://example.com/en/ confused by the same language (especially if the homepage is simply http://example.com/).

Reciprocal Linking

If you have pages /us/en/, /uk/en/, /br/pt and simply /de/ all of these pages must contain your hreflang tagging. You simply can’t just put the hreflang tags on one of your pages. In order for Google to understand the hreflang tags, every single variation of your website must include hreflang tags.

Useful tools when implementing the Hreflang markup

In my opinion, you only need two tools to successfully start implementing hreflang. The first tool by Aleyda Solis called ‘The hreflang Tags Generator’ will help you correctly “generate the hreflang tags patterns to use in the different language and country versions of your pages”.

Once you’ve added the hreflang markup to your pages, you’ll want to validate it and then it’s probably also a good idea to regularly audit your implementation to make sure it’s still set up correctly. To do that I strongly recommend the OnCrawl hreflang tool.

This tool can help you easily get a global view of your internationalization by giving you an overview of your hreflang tags so you can make sure everything is still in perfect working order by creating a custom hreflang dashboard.

OnCrawl hreflang tool
OnCrawl hreflang tool

Other noticeable benefits of the OnCrawl Hreflang tool:

1. Identify non-indexable pages containing hreflang tags

The OnCrawl tool will give you a list of all non-indexable pages containing hreflang tags and as it’s an SEO crawler it will also help you discover possible reasons why a page might not be indexed.

2. Find pages in language X without a translation in language Y

Probably the best feature of this tool is that it helps you identify pages you don’t have translations for yet. For example, the tool will let you find pages that already have an English and a French version, but not a German one.

Conclusion

Setting up hreflang is not a difficult process but first, you need to truly understand exactly how the hreflang attribute works. Although the process may look a bit too technical for some it is very much worth addressing especially if you already have sections of your website in different languages or for that matter in the same language but for different countries and the language on your pages is confusing your visitors.

As things in SEO are constantly evolving I will try and keep this guide up to date so next time you are implementing or troubleshooting your hreflang tags please check back.