SEO Game Plan | Search Engine Optimization

Search Engine Optimization, Social Media and Internet Marketing Strategies – get discovered online

Archive for March, 2008

SEO benefit of XML sitemaps

March 27th, 2008 by Craig

Today we are exploring the SEO benefits of XML sitemaps.  We already know Google, MSN, Yahoo and jointly support the Sitemaps protocol.  But does having a XML sitemap on your website affect your ranking in the search engines?   Let’s take a look…

What is a XML Sitemap?
Unlike traditional SiteMaps which act more as a human friendly contents page, an XML SiteMap uses an XML schema to provide a Sitemap protocol as defined by SiteMaps.Org.  In short a  XML Sitemap allows webmasters to submit a master list of all their site’s pages to Google, Yahoo, MSN and for indexing. Information about the website is stored in an XML file along with other relevant information as specified by the webmaster. It is best practice to have your XML sitemap include, last modified date, update frequency, and priority. The purpose of this Sitemap is to have the most recent version of your URL’s indexed in Google and others and at all times.

Do you need to have a XML Sitemap?
XML sitemaps can generally help any site needing to be indexed; however, small static sites may not see the need for this. For example, if you have a small 5 to 10 page website that seldom sees any of its pages updated and your entire site is already in Google’s index, the XML Sitemap is not necessarily going to help much. It is best used when trying to keep the latest versions of your pages current in Google and the major search engines. Large sites with 1,000’s of URL’s will also benefit, especially if all of their pages are not appearing in the index. Google XML Sitemaps will benefit you if you have either a dynamic or large site.

Will using XML Sitemaps improve my Search Ranking?
In most cases this can improve your rankings especially if you have a new website. By having the most current version of your site in Google’s index, this can speed up your ranking in the results pages. This is because if you make an update to a page for optimization purposes, Google’s index will have this page updated more quickly than without a XML sitemap. What this essentially means is that with more frequent spidering you can help influence what version of your site is in the index, and ultimately, increase your ranking.

How do you create the XML Sitemap?
You can create your XML sitemap manually or use widely avaialble automated tools. There are a number of available solutions for this. One of the simplest methods of creating XML sitemaps is through the use of Blackwoodproductions Dynamic XML Sitemap Creator (Spydermap). This is a free, easy to use tool that will help you create your XML sitemaps with ease. The Spydermap then re-updates your sitemap page for you automatically. The XML based Spydermap is a hands-freeservice for any serious webmaster.  There are also number of downloadable and online tools listed on Google’s site which cater to both beginners and seasoned professionals alike.

Submitting your XML Sitemap to Google is relatively straightforward. After the file has been created the first thing you want to do is upload the file to your server, we recommend at the root level. Log into the Sitemap console using your Google account. From here you can add a site to your account. Simply enter your top level domain where it says “Add Site”. This will add the domain to your account and allow you to then submit the XML sitemap.

So… the answer to today’s question: Does having a XML sitemap on your website affect your ranking? I say YES!  They can help you to achieve up to date indexing in Google, and can be of significant use in the ranking of many websites.

Category: Optimization, SEO Tips, Strategy | 113 Comments »