20 things about Google - Thing 03 - Watch Your Language!  

on May 22, 2017 at 9:53pm |Updated on February 2, 2024 at 2:45pm

In my last blog, I talked about the need to make sure your website is worked well for people with different accessibility needs, as Google has been considering this as a very important ranking factor for at least 3½ years. Another way to look at this would be to think of Google as a person. This person has the power to put you in front of more potential customers that you can ever dream of. All they want to do first is to be able to use your website properly themselves. Oh yes, they also happen to be blind. Given that, wouldn’t you want to do everything you could to make sure they could use your website properly?

Anyway, it is a complex issue and not something you can fix overnight so I want to tell you in this blog about something you can fix very easily! Addressing this issue will help your rankings, plain and simple!

It’s all about the language....

Have a look at this section of source code from a website:

<html lang="en-US">

And now look at this one:

<html lang="en-GB">

The first bit of this tells Google (and everyone else) that your website is written in English.

The second bit tells Google which country the language pertains to. In short, "en-US" means that the website is written in American English and ="en-GB" means that the website is written in British English (or just English if you wish to be pedantic about it). All WordPress templates that are bought from places like Theme Forest default to US English as US English is seen as the most common language on the internet. Many web designers who don’t know about these things, don’t know how to change the code so that it states that the language is “British English”. This can confuse Google and screenreaders that might change the accent that they choose to use when reading the web page aloud through your computer speakers.

I would estimate that at least 25% of the websites that I review have this set to the "en-US". If you want to check your own website, right click on the page and look at the first few lines of the code. You will usually see one of the following:

1 - <html lang="en">
2 - <html lang="en-US">
3 - <html lang="en-GB">

Option 1 and 3 are both fine, option 2 is what your WordPress template will most likely default and should be changed immediately.

By the way, if you do not see any of these, contact your web designer immediately as not having the language attribute at all will harm your rankings even more!

Next time – Are you Local?

Clive Loseby

Access by Design. A web design Chichester company.

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