Yes, Google Will Index & Rank Your XML Sitemap File

Nov 18, 2008 • 8:22 am | comments (4) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Every day that goes by, I become a bigger fan of setting up an XML Sitemap file for Google and the other search engines to chew on. I think Sitemap files are important for sites to take full advantage of being indexed in Google. Clearly, submitting a Sitemap file is just one small step you need to do to enjoy ranking well in Google. You can often submit a sitemap file and Google won't index all your pages. We discussed this topic yesterday with My Pages Are Dropping Out of Google: What Do I Do?

What I find interesting is not only does a Sitemap help you tell Google about your pages, it also gives Google another document to index and include in their search results. Yes, Google may index your XML sitemap file and rank it in the search results. For example, a search on inurl:sitemap.xml returns Google's XML Sitemap towards the top of the search results for me:

Google's Sitemap File Indexed & Ranking

That being said, hundreds of Sitemap files are indexed and in the search results. They typically only come up for very specific searches, that likely won't impact the normal searcher.

Two Google Group threads are discussing this. One, JohnMu of Google replied to, saying:

It does look like we have some of your Sitemap files indexed. It's possible that there is a link to them somewhere (or perhaps to the Sitemaps Index file). At any rate, I wouldn't worry about this since these are generally not URLs that will come up in the search results, so apart from people like you who look at the details, nobody will really be seeing them.

If you really don't want them to show up in the Google results, you have a way out. Here is how according to JohnMu:

If you do want to have them removed from the index, you could have your server send a "x-robots-tag" HTTP header tag with the contents of the file. Since they all appear to be originating from a single script, I imagine adding this would be fairly easy. For more information on the "x-robots-tag", please see our blog post.

Is Google indexing your Sitemap file? Do you care?

Forum discussion at Google Group.

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11/18/2008 02:19 pm

I've been sending the x-robots-tag for all my XML files for a long time and it works perfectly fine. They do not come up in any searches and no, they're not indexed. I really hate when I find any kind of xml files in search results.

Benjamin Burns

11/18/2008 05:06 pm

I fully agree with Barry. The use of XML sitemaps have helped our properties as we add multiple hotels over the course of the years. The use of Video xml sitemaps is another tactics I would incorporate into the strategy when creating xml sitemaps.. that's just my opinion. Cheers! Ben

Michael Martinez

11/18/2008 05:12 pm

Given how many browsers are now XML-capable, it makes no real sense to exclude XML sitemaps from search results. XML news feeds, for example, can now be read directly in Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Crumb (I don't know about Safari or Opera). If we can read XML news and blog feeds in browsers, why not XML sitemaps? It's just one more option to help people find content on a site.

Rob Abdul

11/19/2008 09:41 am

You do not have to submit a sitemap xml to Google. However for larger sites that are always adding new content, a sitemap xml file is great for using Googlebots time efficiently on your site.

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