XML Sitemaps

“General rule of thumb, if you can’t find anyway to justify how something you are doing for SEO also benefits a visitor, maybe you should reconsider it. With a few exceptions – XML Sitemaps might be a reasonable one.”

– Rand Fishkin, Whiteboard Friday 01/08/17, Internal and External Linking

If I was an eCommerce website, I would be submitting buckets of URLs via XML Sitemaps within Google Search Console, these buckets distinguished by similar characteristics, such as one XML Sitemap submission of product pages with no images, one submission with product pages under a certain character count, one submission with or without schema markup, etc. Pretty quickly I will be able to see what percentage of these submitted URLs are indexed by Google, and will be able to formulate a hypothesis around the type of pages on my website – those with or without the aforementioned characteristics – are preferred by Google for indexing.

ROI on this initiative is probably overkill for smaller websites. But for a large website, especially eCommerce, XML Sitemaps and GSC should be used actively as an asset rather than a “set it then forget it” checklist item.

If I submit all my XML Sitemap eggs in one basket, we don’t know which of the submitted URLs indicated as indexed are, and which are not. Fortunately, Search Console and multiple, deliberate XML Sitemap submissions gives us the ability to analyze with more granularity.