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Is language a Google ranking factor?

Does using a different language affect your organic search rankings?Let's see if Google uses language as a ranking factor.

Multilingual websites allow you to target users based on their language preferences.

But does using a different language affect your organic search rankings?

Read on to find out if there is any link between language and improved Google rankings.

Disclaimer: Language is a ranking factor

If you want to reach English speakers, your content should be written in English.

However, the same English content may not rank highly in a market dominated by Chinese, Arabic or Spanish.

Businesses that want to reach customers who speak different languages ​​in a specific country can do so by creating content in multiple languages.

So it seems logical that language plays some role in how Google ranks pages, right?

Here's how you can tell search engines which languages ​​and countries they're targeting.

The first option is to use the hreflang attribute, which tells search engines the target language and country of the page.

The second option is to use the content language meta tag, which tells search engines the target language and country of the page.

In both examples, the hreflang and meta tags tell search engines that the page is for English-speaking users in the UK.

You can use country-specific top-level domains such ashttps://domain.it/ for the Italian site.This tells search engines that the entire site is aimed at Italians.

Additionally, you can use subdirectories to separate content by language and country.An example is what is found under https://domain.com/en-us/.It will target English speakers in the US.

Evidence of language as a ranking factor

Google provides in-depth advice on how to manage multi-regional and multilingual sites in the Advanced SEO section of Google Search Central.It explains how to tell Google about different language versions using the HTML tags, meta tags, and URL structure discussed above.

Also, Google mentions language when explaining how the search algorithm works.It states:

"Search settings are also an important indicator of which results you might find useful, such as whether you have set a preferred language or opted to use SafeSearch (a tool that helps filter out explicit results).

If searchers set English as their preferred language and Canada as their home location, a site targeting English-speaking Canadians using the following methods will have a better chance of outperforming sites without any language or country specification:

  • https://domain.ca/en/
  • https://domain.com/en-ca/

Google also recommends canonical code in some cases.

"If you serve similar or duplicate content in the same language on different URLs in part of your multi-regional site (for example, if example.de/ and example.com/de/ both show similar German content), you should choose Preferred version and use the rel='canonical' element and hreflang tag to ensure the correct language or regional URL is provided to searchers.

In Google's advanced SEO documentation on integrating duplicate URLs, they go on to discuss how canonical code and language work together.

"Different language versions of a single page are considered duplicates only if the main content is in the same language (that is, if only headers, footers, and other non-critical text are translated, but the body remains the same, the page considered a duplicate).

Under their normalization considerations, they recommend that you:

"Specify the canonical page when using the hreflang tag.Specify the canonical page in the same language, or the best alternative if no canonical page exists in the same language.

Language as a Ranking Factor: Our Verdict

Language is discussed on Google's page on how search algorithms work.You can also find languages ​​under Advanced SEO Documentation in Google Search Central.

So while Google hasn't officially confirmed it's a ranking factor, language and country settings do affect visibility in searches for users who specify a specific language and location.

Therefore, we believe language is an almost proven Google ranking factor.

Extended reading:

Keyword Stuffing as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Core Web Vitals as a Google Ranking Factor: What You Need to Know

Are HTML title tags (H2-H6) a Google ranking factor?

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