Prioritizing local sites in search results
As a leader in the agricultural and chemicals sectors, Yara serves a wide range of markets across the world and is one of Norway’s biggest companies with a global reach. Dept has worked with Yara to improve its digital offering for quite some time now, but we were again eager and enthusiastic when they asked us about putting ‘Hreflang’ in place across all of their downstream websites.
Making search local
Hreflang is a technical solution for the prioritization of local sites in search results, where a site owner has many sites of similar content across different markets or regions. Users naturally want search engines to deliver the most useful and appropriate site for them. So, if you are a Dutch user in the Netherlands and you search for Yara, both you as a user and Yara as a company are best served by the Yara Netherlands site being delivered prominently in the results. However, it is often the case that the English version of the pages rank higher.
Another problem mitigated by Hreflang is duplicate content harming search results and/or ranking. For instance a global enterprise like Yara has several markets in English; these sites have similar content apart from changes in addresses, currency, spelling of specific words etc. You understand that these sites are aimed at different markets but Google does not. Despite you having gone to all the effort of creating content optimized for language and location, search engines may still present versions of pages that don’t match up. Hreflang can indicate to the search engine that this is almost the same content but optimized for different users.
Hreflang as a solution for prioritization and duplicate content
To make Hreflang work for Yara and improve the user experience for their customers, our team assessed a variety of solutions before settling on a combined approach. We built a custom Tridion storage extension to index pages into (the open source enterprise search platform) SOLR and a console application that runs intermittently, fetching live page data and building up-to-date Google Sitemaps for each country publication. In order to get around sitemap size restrictions and avoid excessive publisher load we developed a way to make use of multiple sitemaps.
The end result was a flexible, scalable and lightweight solution.