Google’s Gary Illyes has clarified that the hreflang attribute is not a ranking signal, though it will result in more targeted traffic.
On the use of hreflang, Illyes says:
“You will NOT receive a ranking benefit per se, at least not in the internal sense of the term. What you will receive is more targeted traffic.”
This information was provided during a Reddit AMA on February 8 in response to a question regarding conflicting statements Googlers have made about hreflang.
The question reads:
“Hey Gary, you and [John Mueller from Google] have conflicting statements on hreflang. John says they will not help with rankings and you have said they’re treated as a cluster and they should be able to use each others ranking signals. Can we get an official clarification on this?”
Illyes says the confusion likely stems from peoples’ interpretation of what is considered a ranking benefit.
Technically, there is no ranking benefit associated with using hreflang in an algorithmic sense.