There’s quite a big split in the SEO and website development community about the importance of submitting an XML sitemap to Google, Yahoo and Bing. XML sitemaps do help websites that’s got a structural navigation and crawl-ability problems.
Most people in the SEO world needs to apply every possible advantage to a website to get better rankings. Others will focus on fixing complex structural issues and allow crawling to happen naturally. While an XML sitemap will not directly improve your search engine rankings, it does allow search engines such as Google to see any SEO based changes more quickly.
XML sitemaps have replaced the older method of submitting your website URL to search engines. You can now submit your XML sitemap directly to the search engines, or you can wait for the search engines to spider it.
Complex websites should always have two kinds of sitemaps. One visible to your users for easy navigation to anywhere on your website and one for the search engines. An HTML sitemap is what you will use for the visible one for your users and a XML sitemap helps the search engines to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed and to crawl your site accordingly.
What is included in a XML Sitemap?
- Links (URL’s) to all the pages on your website.
- The relative importance of each page on your website.
- The date each page was last modified.
- How often each page is expected to change.
When to use a XML sitemap
- On large dynamic websites that are poorly linked making them difficult to index.
- On websites using large amounts of Ajax and Flash where the web crawlers have difficulty accessing the content.
- For poorly coded websites (can name a few).
- Any website that changes their content frequently like blogs, forums, CMS (content management systems).
XML sitemaps doesn’t directly affect SEO results but they do communicate important information to the search engines to help them index your website. My advice – always include a XML sitemap as part of your Website Development and SEO program.
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