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This thread is resolved. Here is a description of the problem and solution.

Problem:

Does my language code negatively affect the SEO?

Solution:

What is important in this case is to keep the value of the hreflang attribute of the tag to match the correct language variation. For example, if you are addressing Chinese and English speaking people in Hong Kong the hreflang values should be as follows:

English: en_HK

Chinese: zh_Hant_HK

Relevant Documentation:

Please read this detailed reply:

https://wpml.org/forums/topic/does-my-language-code-negatively-affect-the-seo/#post-2771164

This topic contains 9 replies, has 3 voices.

Last updated by Itamar 1 year, 2 months ago.

Assigned support staff: Itamar.

Author Posts
September 18, 2018 at 4:58 am

ka-chuS

What I did:

I added a new Traditional Chinese language for my site. The CODE for Traditional Chinese originally was "zh-hant" in your default setting. But I want it to show in a different way in order to have a more beautiful URL. In my new language, I used "hk" as the CODE.

I would like to know if this CODE will negatively affect the SEO performance?

September 19, 2018 at 12:36 am #2746751

Bruno
Supporter

Languages: English (English ) Portuguese (Brazil) (Português )

Timezone: America/Sao_Paulo (GMT-03:00)

Thank you for contacting us. Please, my sincere apologies for the delay in answering.

I do not think this should affect the SEO of your site. You should, however, consider keeping the lang of your site as "zh-hans" or "zh-hant" for the HTML lang attribute (default locate and hreflang). I'll attach an image for you to see.

Note: The availability of zh-Hans and zh-Hant for Chinese written in Simplified and Traditional scripts should improve consistency and accuracy, and is already becoming widely used...

Source: hidden link

Please, let me know if I can help with any other questions you may have. I'll be happy to help.

Thank you.

September 19, 2018 at 12:54 am #2746773

ka-chuS

Thank you for your time, Bruno!

But I still have 3 further problems.

1. As my site is specially for Hong Kong visitors, shall I use zh-hant_HK (or zh-hant-hk? Which is correct?) for “Default locale” and “hreflang”?

2. Default language of my site is in English. Shall I use en_HK for “Default locale” and “hreflang” at the same time?

3. What is the section “Translation (new)” for?

September 19, 2018 at 2:21 am #2746917

Bruno
Supporter

Languages: English (English ) Portuguese (Brazil) (Português )

Timezone: America/Sao_Paulo (GMT-03:00)

>>> 1. As my site is specially for Hong Kong visitors, shall I use zh-hant_HK (or zh-hant-hk? Which is correct?) for “Default locale” and “hreflang”?

I believe you should only use "zh-hant". From what I've seen, Traditional Chinese is the closest to Hong Kong language. I do not think the Hong Kong language has a locate variation.

>>> 2. Default language of my site is in English. Shall I use en_HK for “Default locale” and “hreflang” at the same time?

For English, you should keep it as default.

>>> 3. What is the section “Translation (new)” for?

It is only for you to add the name that will be displayed on the front-end in the respective languages.

Please, let me know if I can help with any other questions you may have. I'll be happy to help.

Thank you.

September 24, 2018 at 1:34 am #2759062

ka-chuS

I would like to make sure again I am not using it incorrectly. According to hidden link, I would like to use zh-Hant-HK because I want my website just focuses on HK people. Am I do it right?

September 25, 2018 at 6:30 am #2762583

Bruno
Supporter

Languages: English (English ) Portuguese (Brazil) (Português )

Timezone: America/Sao_Paulo (GMT-03:00)

Yes, you're right. If you want to focus on Hong Kong, you should use the code zh-Hant-HK.

Once you've set up your site, you can verify that this is entered correctly by accessing your site and by right-clicking on "View page source". That should be in the first few lines.

Please, let me know if I can help with any other questions you may have. I'll be happy to help.

Thank you.

September 27, 2018 at 2:21 am #2769062

ka-chuS

Both sections of "Default locale" and "hreflang" in the language of Traditional Chinese are "zh-Hant-HK". Is it alright?

I am sorry, I still have one more question.
My site has two languages: English is the default language, another is Chinese. For the language of English, the "Default locale" is "en_US", while "hreflang" is "en". Does it mean it focuses on US people? Shall I delete "_US", just leave it as "en"? I still just want to focus on Hong Kong people. Because many foreign people living in Hong Kong, I need an English page for them. What should I do? Or is it fine to just leave it as "en_US"? Or change it to "en_HK"? But will it make google confused about which language to show when there is an HK visitor?

Many thanks!

September 27, 2018 at 4:06 pm #2771164

Itamar
Supporter

Languages: English (English ) Hebrew (עברית )

Timezone: Asia/Jerusalem (GMT+02:00)

Hi.

Bruno is not available today, so I'll continue to handle this ticket. I hope that it is alright with you.

I've read this ticket and here are my answers to you.

You ask: "Both sections of "Default locale" and "hreflang" in the language of Traditional Chinese are "zh-Hant-HK". Is it alright?"

The "Default locale" should be the same as the .mo file of this language that is present in /wp-content/languages/ folder. The file that is being downloaded from the WordPress languages repository for Traditional Chinese is zh_TW.mo. So if you didn't change the name of this file, I think that it better stay zh_TW and you shouldn't change it. Please notice the message that we are placing in the Languages Table screen (where you edit the languages). The message says:
Default locale: This determines the locale value for this language. You should check the name of WordPress localization file to set this correctly.
This will have no meaning outside the scope of your site. And, as much as I know, will have no effect on SEO. If you want to have the exact language variation for Hong Kong on your site, you should manually download the file from the WordPress languages translations project here. hidden link. In this case, the name of the file should be changed to zh_HK.mo. But again this is only if you want to follow the precise procedures and have no effect on SEO, in my opinion.

You also ask: "For the language of English, the "Default locale" is "en_US", while "hreflang" is "en". Does it mean it focuses on US people? Shall I delete "_US", just leave it as "en"?"

It means that it is US English. No, as explained above, do not delete it. Just leave it as it is if you want the English speaking people in Hong Kong to see US English variation which is the default language for WordPress. You will not find any en_US.mo file in the /wp-content/languages/ folder simply because that this is the language that WordPress is written in. If you want other variation of the English language, for example, en_GB, you should download it from the WordPress repository. Please note that there is no English variation for Hong Kong English. You can see it here hidden link. In my opinion, you should stay with en_US, and there is no point in changing it.

In addition, you ask: "But will it make google confused about which language to show when there is an HK visitor?"

What matters for Google here, in this case, is the hreflang tag which can be "en-hk". Then Google will know that the content is intended for English speaking people that leave in Hong Kong. I've checked this issue on my test site by changing the hreflang to "en-hk" and then checking my site with this service: hidden link. And I could see that the region is then recognized as Hong Kong. Please see the attached screenshot. Please note that you will get the following message: Language-region code has no standalone language code . And this confirms what we know which is that the is no specific language code for Hong Kong English. Beyond this, I do not think that this message should alarm you.

If you want to better understand about the hreflang and there meaning and implication on SEO in Google please read and see the videos in the following links.
hidden link
hidden link

I hope that this explains the issue and answers your questions.

Best Regards,
Itamar.

September 28, 2018 at 3:07 am #2772446

ka-chuS

My issue is resolved now. Thank you!

September 30, 2018 at 7:52 am #2776270

Itamar
Supporter

Languages: English (English ) Hebrew (עברית )

Timezone: Asia/Jerusalem (GMT+02:00)

Great, I'm glad that it is solved now!
Good luck with your web projects 🙂
Itamar.