In the October 2022 Google SEO Office Hours, a couple of people have asked about how Google serves the wrong language or wrong version of the site and what could be done about it.
In one question, John Mueller answered that using hreflang on your pages. Hreflang is an annotation added in the headers of the pages, in the sitemap file, or the http header, which links the different country and language versions of a page together and lets Google know which of the pages belong in each set. He also mentioned that to make sure that hreflang works well, redirecting to homepages also need to be part of it because if not, then they will see that the page is separate from the set of hreflang pages. When this happens, they might show the page or pages separately in the search results.
The correct approach, is to use the x-default hreflang annotation for that redirecting homepage and then the individual country and language versions for the appropriate sub-URLs.
But what if you’ve set your hreflang and redirect to homepages correct, you’ve set all parameters correct, but Google is still serving the wrong page?
According to Mueller, internationalization is never guaranteed and it is always possible for users to reach the wrong version of the page. That is just the way the web works and it is impossible to guarantee even if Google got everything right.
What else could be done then?
The advantage of this banner over redirecting users to the right location is that you can never be a hundred percent sure that the location is correct.
Another possible issue of the use of the redirect is when Google’s crawlers tries to access your pages and if they are always redirected, for example, to the main English version, then Google would never know about the other language versions that exists on the site.
Looks like the banner is the preferred solution to the problem.
Check out the SEO Office Hours October Episode here.