I am frequently amazed at the self-centred hubris* of Google. The current example is New markup for multi-lingual content, Google Blog, 05-December-2011.
Now granted, if you already know that what is actually happening is that Google is finally able to parse, identify, and act on HTML 4.01 - (12.3.3 Links and search engines) - 'hreflang=' and associated link attributes there is no problem with the announcement.
However, if you do not, the implication is that Google is providing something new and wonderful, i.e. rel=nofollow, rel=canonical. And the search media articles I've read, by and large, accept and perpetuate that misrepresentation.
This is Google catching up to what already exists, if not widely utilised. Because I like to build to standards/best practices and thought that it was a practical future-proof behaviour I built it into my sites code a number of years ago. Nice to be right. Glad to see Google agreeing with me...
* why do I consider it 'self-centred hubris'?
Because there is no mention of the W3C, the 4.01 HTML standard, or link such as I've provided (so far as I could see all links were self-referencing).
Note: given logfile analysis I suspect that this announcement is somewhat after the fact. If not, perhaps G's traffic targeting (and certain other interesting exceptions) will improve even more...
Google Filtering For Hreflang=
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