Hreflang: Missing Return Links

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Missing Return Links

URLs with missing return links (or ‘return tags’ in Google Search Console) to them, from their alternate pages.

Hreflang is reciprocal, so all alternate versions must confirm the relationship. When page X links to page Y using hreflang to specify it as its alternate page, page Y must have a return link.

No return links means the hreflang annotations may be ignored or not interpreted correctly.

How to Analyse in the SEO Spider

View URLs with this issue in the ‘Hreflang’ tab and ‘Missing Return Links’ filter.

The missing return links URLs can be seen in the lower window ‘URL Details’ pane with a ‘missing’ confirmation status.

They can be exported in bulk via the ‘Reports > Hreflang > Missing Return Links’ export.

Read our tutorial on ‘How To Audit Hreflang’.

What Triggers This Issue

This issue is triggered when URLs with hreflang annotations lack corresponding return links from their alternate versions.

For example:

Has the hreflang annotations:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="" />

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="" />

But only includes:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="" />

Missing the “en-gb” return hreflang link.

How To Fix

Ensure alternate pages include hreflang annotations to URLs which are missing return links. This will confirm they are a ‘set’ of alternate pages.

Further Reading

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