Hreflang XML sitemaps is an alternative to adding hreflang tags to a page. Hrelfnag XML sitemaps can solve many of the complexities of adding tags to each page. The flexibility of XML sitemaps makes it one of the most scalable methods, which is why we developed Hreflang Builder.

Benefits of Hreflang XML sitemaps

Google’s hreflang documentation states that the effectiveness of all methods are equivalent to each other. That being said there are obviously key benefits of using Hreflang XML sitemaps over other methods.

  • Can use hreflang across different domains and CMS.
  • Hreflang XML sitemaps can be deployed quickly and are easy to update over time.
  • It does not require each page to be visited to validate the cross-tagging.
  • It is easier to ensure only valid URLs are in the output.
  • It can include PDF files.
  • It does not require any on-site coding.

Challenges of Hreflang XML Sitemaps

  • Requires a method to create hreflang XML sitemaps
  • Requires a method to gather and match alternates
  • Requires method to upload to server for indexing
  • Requires different domains to be cross-validated
  • Hreflang XML sitemaps can be forgotten and not updated
  • IT can deploy in-page hreflang that may conflict with XML sitemaps

Hreflang XML Sitemap Process

All methods of deploying hreflang elements require the same steps of gathering alternate URLs, applying the hreflang syntax and presenting the hreflang cluster to the search engines. The advantage of using Hreflang XML sitemaps is they often does not require alterations to the CMS and resources from IT.

Gathering Alternate URLs

Gathering all of the alternate URLs is the most challenging step in any hreflang method. The more complex and diverse your global infrastructure is the more challenging it will be. The benefit of using hreflang XML sitemaps it is allows you to iterate and add them as you are able to match them. A common challenge with some solutions is to

Applying Hreflang Syntax

Once the URLs are identified the solution must append the correct language and language region to each URL. Additionally, you need a method to ensure the URLs are all 200 indexable to prevent issues.

Generating Hreflang XML Sitemaps

Once you have the first two steps, you need a method to merge it into the hreflang XML sitemap format. You can have a single XML sitemap with all of the reciprocating hreflang clusters or you can create individual language or market XML sitemaps. Either will work they must meet the hreflang rules.

Uploading to your Webserver

The last step of the process is to upload them to a webserver for the search engines to find and index them. If you are using subdomains or folders it is often easy to upload them to the root domain. If you have implemented DNS verification in Google Search Console all of the marks will align under your ownership and the search engines will process the sitemaps. However, if you have multiple ccTLD’s and other combinations of domains for your market or language sites you will either need to upload to all of these locations or you can use cross-domain verification and load to a signal location.