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I am a developer on a large site which regionally targets some content with a specific url. Is it technically correct to target the countries in those regions in the sitemap.xml and point them to the regional url?

In a region like North America there are two or three countries that could be serviced by an alternate hreflang's (Canada, USA) but point to a common url: example.com/us

For example;

<url>
  <loc>http://example.com/au/</loc>
  <xml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-ca" href="http://example.com/us/" />
  <xml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-us" href="http://example.com/us/" />
  <xml:link rel="alternate" hreflang="en-gb" href="http://example.com/uk/" />
  <lastmod>2015-01-26T12:12:59Z</lastmod>
  <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
  <priority>0.5</priority>
</url>

Is this appropriate? I want to ensure that visitors from Canada know that there is regional content that is appropriate for them (despite the unfortunate regional directory name — 'us' rather than 'north-america'). Of course, I also want Google know that there is content for that locale as well.

Thanks in advance.

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Yes, it's correct to target the countries in the sitemap.xml and point them to the regional url.

And yes, you can use the same URL for multiple locations.

You might want to simplify it here though, and use /us/ for "en" (all English variations that aren't otherwise specified) and /uk/ for "en-gb" (just English in Great Britain).

If possible, use the more generic versions of the hreflang values, since that lets those URLs to be used broader. You might even consider using "x-default" here, if that's your global preference. You can also use the same URL for x-default & a more specific variation too.

  • Thanks Max, I apprecate the reply. It's what I equally feared and hoped for. – travo Mar 24 '15 at 0:28
  • Thanks Max - do you know of any documentation that describes that each URL can't be targeted to two countries? – James Healy Mar 24 '15 at 2:46
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    Actually it looks like you can! productforums.google.com/forum/#!msg/webmasters/Jw-1qdlARDM/… I stand corrected – Max Mar 24 '15 at 6:50
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    Yes, you can use the same URL for multiple locations. In this case, I'd try to simplify it though, and use /us/ for "en" (all English variations that aren't otherwise specified) and /uk/ for "en-gb" (just English in Great Britain). If at all possible, use the more generic versions of the hreflang values, since that lets those URLs be used broader. You might even consider using "x-default" here, if that's your global preference -- and of course you can use the same URL for x-default & a more specific variation too. – John Mueller Mar 25 '15 at 8:36
  • Thanks John, I have updated my answer with your clarifications. – Max Apr 9 '15 at 3:33

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