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Website Quality Alert

Country code used for content language specification

Problem:

The code of the content language defined for the web page is a known code, but considering other properties of the page, we believe that a country code was misused as language code in this case.

We applying heuristics of commonly misused codes in certain contexts. An example is the code "ch" specified on Swiss websites, which would indicate that the page uses the Chamorro language.

The list of correct language codes includes the ISO 639-1 and ISO 639-2 codes. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) provides the official language subtag registry.

Impact:

According to the W3C Internationalization Best Practices, language information is useful for things such as authoring tools, translation tools, accessibility, font selection, page rendering, search, and scripting. In practice, we see that localized search engines (such as google.it) make use of language information, so that missing or incorrect information may have a negative impact of search engine ranking. It is also likely to affect site visitors who use screen readers or spell checkers, in case an input from the user is expected.

Recommendation:

Always specify the content language with the correct language code, if possible using the ISO 639 codes. If you need to specify a country-specific variant of a language (which is recommended only if it makes a significant difference), then use the country code as subtag, e.g. "de-CH" instead of "ch".

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