Search Engine Optimization

Localize your Sitemap

A sitemap is a file usually in XML format that lists the pages of your site. It serves as a map for search engines and other crawlers to learn about the structure of your site, navigate and crawl your site, and index pages which may not be found by crawling. Sitemaps can also be used to provide other information about your webpages such as language, update frequency, and page importance. A sitemap should be accessible from the root, for example: www.mycompany.com/sitemap.xml.

There are 2 ways to make your sitemap available to search engines: 

  1. Specify sitemap location in robots.txtSitemap: http://www.mycompany.com/sitemap.xml
  2. Submit your sitemap to search engines. For example, you can submit sitemap to Google via their Search Console Sitemaps tool.

How Smartling Handles Your Sitemap

If you use ccTLD - country code top level domain (e.g. www.mycompany.fr) or subdomain (e.g. fr.mycompany.com) for your localized site, the GDN will copy the sitemap of your source site, and replace the original domain with the localized domain. For example:

Original sitemap: www.mycompany.com/sitemap.xml

<url><loc>http://www.example.com/about</loc></url>

Localized sitemap: fr.mycompany.com/sitemap.xml

<url><loc>http://fr.example.com/about</loc></url>

If your sitemap is hosted by a third party service, the GDN will not be able to rewrite it. You can still have the localized sitemaps hosted by the third party service. But make sure you specify the locations for these sitemaps in your robots.txt.

If you have a folder setup (e.g. www.mycompany.com/fr), however, the GDN does not generate an updated sitemap for the folders. You can use a crawler or sitemap generator to create a new sitemap that covers the localized folders and replace your original sitemap with the new one on your source site.

If there are URLs specific to certain locales, it is also recommended to use a crawler or sitemap generator, so each of your sites will have an accurate sitemap instead of the same copy of the source site.

Using hreflang in Sitemaps

Sitemaps are one method to provide information to search engines about alternate languages you may support. This is important to ensure you are not penalized for duplicate content, and so the search engine can serve relevant results to users searching in a given language (targeting). Similar to using on-page hreflang attributes in link tags, Google recommends using xhtml:link tags in sitemaps to specify alternate language versions in the sitemap.

Localizing your Sitemap is one aspect of international SEO. Learn more about SEO strategy for your localized sites in the Search Engine Optimization section of our Help Center

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