XML Sitemap Best Practices – It’s More Important Than You Think

How to Use XML Sitemaps to Boost SEO

Google uses your XML sitemap to learn how to show your website on internet. A poorly constructed XML sitemap will report the wrong information and hurt rankings.

As the web evolves, so too does Google and SEO.

This means what is considered best practice is often in flux. What may have been good counsel yesterday, is not so today.

This is especially true for sitemaps, which are almost as old as SEO itself.

The problem is, when every man and their dog has posted answers in forums, published recommendations on blogs and amplified opinions with social media, it takes time to sort valuable advice from misinformation.

So while most of us share a general understanding that submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console is important, you may not know the intricacies of how to implement them in a way that drives SEO key performance indicators (KPIs).

Let’s clear up the confusion around best practices for sitemaps today.

In this article we cover:

What Is an XML Sitemap

In simple terms, an XML sitemap is a list of your website’s URLs.

It acts as a roadmap to tell search engines what content is available and how to reach it.

sitemap vs website crawling

In the example above, a search engine will find all nine pages in a sitemap with one visit to the XML sitemap file.

On the website, it will have to jump through five internal links to find page 9.

This ability of an XML sitemap to assist crawlers in faster indexation is especially important for websites that:

  • Have thousands of pages and/or a deep website architecture.
  • Frequently add new pages.
  • Frequently change content of existing pages.
  • Suffer from weak internal linking and orphan pages.
  • Lack a strong external link profile.

Side note: Submitting a sitemap with noindex URLs can also speed up deindexation. This can be more efficient than removing URLs in Google Search Console if you have many to be deindexed. But use this with care and be sure you only add such URLs temporarily to your sitemaps.

Key Takeaway

Even though search engines can technically find your URLs without it, by including pages in an XML sitemap you’re indicating that you consider them to be quality landing pages.

While there is no guarantee that an XML sitemap will get your pages crawled, let alone indexed or ranked, submitting one certainly increases your chances.

Read the full article by Jes Scholz at https://www.searchenginejournal.com/technical-seo/xml-sitemaps/#close

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