HREFLang Builder is relatively simple to get set up and use if you organize your project and follow these directions.
You will need to know and have available the following:
Step 1 – Give the project a name – If you will have multiple projects name them logically so you know which is which
Step 2 – Determine/Select Import Source – this tells us what type of files we are importing. Review this document for more information on understanding URL Source options
Step 3 – Define the Country/Language Format of your URL’s – select from the list which format matches the majority of the URLs for each country. Review this document for more information on understanding language/country setting options Note if you have multiple formats see our help section on Multiple URL Formats
Step 4 – Set or Skip URL Checking – It is not recommended that you use this feature unless the URL’s are on a site on staging server or if you have a lot of errors you can check this box to not fetch the URL’s and check header status codes and just import the URL’s from the source or you have a restrictive crawl defence and need to have the IP whitelisted.
Step 5 – Force Lower Case – some sites have URL’s in both upper and lower case in one country and the other case in another. This option forces all URLs into lower case guaranteeing a match. If you use uppercase letters in your URL’s and they are consistent you can turn this option off.
Step 6 – Add Last Update Element – selecting this option will add the server date for the page to the last update element allowing you to use this file as a standard XML site map as well.
Step 7 – Enable Canonical Checking – this option is on by default and will check the page to see if there is a rel=canonical tag on the page and confirm it points to this page.
Step 8 – Enable Robots checking – this option is on by default and will check to ensure the page does not have a noindex robots tag.
Step 9 – Set Site Map File Size – this option allows you to set the size of the exported XML site map. The default option is 10,000 URL’s which we find is optimal. but you can change to 50,000 which is the maximum allowed by search engines.
Step 10 – Set HREF XML Server Location – this is where you will upload the XML files. We use this to create a master index file that lists the individual country XML site maps.
Step 11 – Add any URL’s to Ignore – use this option to add any URL’s not to add from alternative home pages to privacy statements etc which often get added to XML site maps during the crawl.
Step 11 – Set URL’s to Include in XML – You only need to set HREFLang Elements if there is a similar URL for another country. For example, if you have a product that is only sold in the US and no other country has one there will be no matching country URL. We can exclude these single URL’s from the final export or we can add them. The default is to add all URL’s but you can choose to add only those with at least 1 other match.