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Large amounts of a company's (English) content are duplicated across the following ccTLDs:

  • example.co.uk
  • example.com
  • example.au
  • example.ie
  • example.co.nz

The issue is that, realistically, we can only make changes to the UK site.

Furthermore, the URL structure of the pages on the foreign markets is not always the same, and could change in the future.

For example, /about-us/ could become /about/ without us being notified.


Would there be any SEO benefit to our UK site from implementing the hreflang attribute on our domain alone?

If yes, how can we do it without changing the other international sites?

Perhaps in XML sitemap form? For example, inspired by Google's guide:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
  xmlns:xhtml="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.example.co.uk/</loc>
    <xhtml:link 
                 rel="alternate"
                 hreflang="en-gb"
                 href="http://www.example.co.uk/"
                 />
</urlset>

It seems like an odd thing to do, and not what hreflang is intended for; but I'd like to confirm.


Note that all other geo-targeting signals are being taken care of.

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1  
Google doesn't require hreflang to understand the location, or target market of a domain. This are factors on the page, for example .co.uk is an indicator alone, NAP on page Name, Address, Phone is another indicator, but the biggest factor is NAP via citations on other sites such as Scoot, Yell, Google Maps, Google Places, Google Plus, Facebook and so on. –  bybe Aug 13 '13 at 17:40
1  
Sounds like he is doing this to take care of duplicate content, not Geo location. –  Max Aug 14 '13 at 6:07
    
See also: hreflang tag for different design and different site? –  unor Oct 13 '13 at 9:19
    
@unor, that question is about different language sites –  Baumr Oct 15 '13 at 9:09
    
Same language or different language doesn't matter much. Duplicate content is allowed by Google as long as it is geo-targeted. Google would need to know that you actually own all these sites. Href-lang would let them know that, as would adding them all to the same webmaster tools account. –  Stephen Ostermiller Oct 15 '13 at 10:44
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1 Answer

The hreflang is bidirectional by nature so each referenced page needs the mark up. I don't know weather implementing on single page would work and I can't imagine it would be how Google would envision it working.

I wasn't so sure about being able to use cross domains in the sitemap, I presumed it was for internal URLs, as per a normal sitemap.xml is (in most cases).

However in this post the author uses cross domains in the sitemap with the desired results:

An International SEO Implementation Tale – Sitemaps: rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”

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+1 for the link. –  Ilmari Karonen Oct 13 '13 at 18:04
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