A sitemap is a list of all of the live URLs which exist on a site and is used to inform search engine crawlers of the most important pages and therefore which ones should be crawled and indexed. There are several things to consider when creating sitemaps, as well as understanding how search engines view them. We cover a range of these topics within our Hangout Notes, along with best practice recommendations and advice from Google.

RSS + PubSubHubbub is better than XML sitemaps

September 11, 2015 Source

John recommends using RSS with PubSubHubbub as the fastest way to get new content indexed.

Submit Canonical URLs in Sitemaps and Other References

April 24, 2015 Source

Use consistent canonical URLs in Sitemaps and other internal references.

Use Sitemaps for Redirect Discovery

April 24, 2015 Source

If you want Google to see your redirected URLs, such as after a URL change, it’s OK to submit the old URLs in a Sitemap to help Google recrawl them more quickly

XML Sitemaps Are Most Beneficial for Large Sites

December 23, 2014 Source

XML Sitemaps are not an essential requirement, and are most beneficial for sites with changing or a large turnover of content.

Break XML Sitemaps into Small Chunks

December 23, 2014 Source

Breaking up XML Sitemaps into smaller groups can give you more feedback on indexing issues, which are reported separately for each Sitemap in Webmaster Tools.

Submit Expired Pages in XML Sitemaps

December 23, 2014 Source

You can submit an XML Sitemap with expired pages to help get them removed from the index more quickly. It’s best to put them into a separate sitemap so you can see them separately to other indexable URLs.

Mobile Sitemaps Are Not for Smartphone Pages

November 21, 2014 Source

Mobile sitemaps are for feature phone pages only, not smartphone compatible pages. If you have smartphone URLs which are different to the desktop URLs, use a normal XML sitemap with rel=alternate.

Change Frequency and Priority in Sitemaps Are Ignored

October 10, 2014 Source

Change Frequency and Priority in XML Sitemaps are not used by web search, but the lastmod date is used.

Submit Sitemaps with Changed URLs

September 12, 2014 Source

If you change many URLs, you should submit a sitemap with the old URLs to Google which will help them pick up the redirects to the new URLs. Webmaster tools will report errors with the sitemap, because it only contains redirecting URLs, but this is fine.

Related Topics

Crawling Indexing Crawl Budget Crawl Errors Crawl Rate Disallow Last Modified Nofollow Noindex RSS Canonicalization Fetch and Render