Googler, Susan Moskwa posted some interesting nuggets of information around language based optimization and geo-specific information and how Google handles certain elements of it on her Google+ page.
These were follow up questions from SMX West. I wanted to make sure a wider audience saw the details she posted:
Q: Can you show some examples of sites using hreflang?
A: Google Play (formerly the Android App Store) and Google Help Centers are among the sites using it. Check out this search, where you see the German listing for the Google Authenticator app being boosted up above the English listing. Or this one, where you see the German Help Center article for installing 2-step verification boosted up above the English one.
Q: Why doesn't Webmaster Tools include the date range of the data being downloaded in its download files?
A: We removed this information from our Search Queries download file because it caused the files to not be in correct CSV format. However, the filenames of our downloads generally include the date range or the date the file was downloaded (whichever is more applicable to the particular feature or data you're downloading).
Q: If I have URLs in my Sitemap that are rel="alternate" hreflang="x" equivalents of each other, will the number of indexed Sitemap URLs shown in Webmaster Tools include all of those URLs, or just one per hreflang "cluster?"
A: As you saw in the examples above, if you've marked up your pages with hreflang markup and we boost a more relevant regional URL up, both URLs still appear in our search results right now (i.e. both are indexed). As such, we count both in your Sitemaps' indexed URL count.
However, if we detect that some URLs in your Sitemap are duplicates of each other, e.g. www.example.com and www.example.com/index.html, we only record 1 indexed URL for that group of URLs because we only show one of them in our search results (we don't show the exact duplicates).
Q: Why are my Geo Sitemaps throwing errors in Webmaster Tools?
A: Google has retired support for the Geo Sitemaps format. You can continue to submit your Geo content to us using the standard Sitemaps format (just listing the URL of the file(s), without
Forum discussion at Google+.