rel=alternate tag cross domain study

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Having created an original rel=alternate study that focused on internal content, I wanted to test whether or not you could setup this on a cross-domain basis. I’m very pleased to announce that you can indeed set this up on a cross domain basis and I’ve included my results below.


Firstly, some have raised the question as to whether this is needed at all as Google should be able to distinguish between websites based upon the ccTLD. This is true, however – some organisation will replicate the same content for a US audience (on a .com) with an English (on a .co.uk) or a Australian (on a .com.au) with only slight tweaks to the currency and phone numbers. Therefore, it is key to set up cross domain rel=alternate tags for this type of scenario.

I run a popular Manchester United blog and I setup the following URL:

http://www.stretford-end.com/test/ca/hello.html

This page has the following rel=alternate set:

<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-us” href=”http://www.seo-trench.com/lang/us/hello.html”/>
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-au” href=”http://www.seo-trench.com/lang/au/hello.html”/>
<link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-ca” href=”http://www.stretford-end.com/test/ca/hello.html”/>
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://www.seo-trench.com/lang/uk/hello.html”/>

You will notice this is the same as the internal pages included within the original rel=alternate post, but with the addition of a Canadian URL. If you do a search in Google.co.uk for ‘Hello SEO Trench’, you’ll see the UK page being returned (as expected):

Search in Google.co.uk for Hello SEO Trench

If the “&gl=ca” is added to the query string (indicating you are searching from Canada), then the following returned:

Google.ca search for Hello SEO Trench

So there you have it! The rel=alternate tag is supported cross domain and I can think of a number of instances as to where this would be very useful indeed. As always, any questions or feedback – please do not hesitate in dropping a comment below.

This post was originally posted on SEO Trench.