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I'm planning to add an XML Sitemap to a client's existing website. According to this, it will help define the difference between the root website (aimed at UK) and the US website (aimed at the United States) and a few other languages/locales.

Is it enough to add only this to the sitemap or will Google punish me for not adding all pages in there? The content changes quite often and we don't have a way to deal with updating the XML regularly at this point. Also the existing content is well indexed on Google already, it's just the concern about multiple pages in English that's behind this.

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Google's John Mueller has answered the question "should I include every single page of my blog in the Sitemap (including tag pages and the date-based archives) or just the important ones?":

It’s always a good idea for your XML Sitemap file to include all pages which you want to have indexed.

While he says that it is a "good idea" it shouldn't be necessary. Google uses sitemaps primarily for URL discovery. If Googlebot can discover URLs by crawling your website, those URLs wouldn't have to be in a sitemap. URLs excluded from the sitemap wouldn't get any of the other side benefits such as:

  • Recognizing preferred URLs for canonicalization
  • Being included in the indexed URL count in webmaster tools (WMT)
  • Getting prioritized in the list of crawl errors in WMT
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That's some great info on the subject, especially the QnA, thanks! For now I think I will make my sitemap consisting of only the things I need to specify, as everything else is well indexed already - but also recommend the client to take a look at how they could use sitemaps in the future. –  Linda H Sep 23 '13 at 8:35
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Yes 100% always see this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TxahHF_MD2Q and this https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/156184?hl=en

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Thanks for the Google link, that's a lot of useful info that somehow I'd missed. –  Linda H Sep 23 '13 at 8:33
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