Are XML Sitemaps Useful for Search Engine Optimization?

May 23, 2007 • 8:58 am | comments (5) by | Filed Under SEO - Search Engine Optimization

In a Search Engine Watch Forums thread, a member asks whether it is beneficial to utilize an XML sitemap for your SEO efforts.

The answer, according to other forum members, is yes:

Google sitemaps is the system that tells G which pages your website contains. If you have an website with URL with parameters then the googlebot won't crawl to much of it, especially if you have multiple parameters(more than two). So, you must create a sitemap file and tell google what pages your server contain. Then the googlebot will came on your sitemap file and will try to reach those URL that normally he will have problems crawling.

However, the member is confused because he has a file called feed.xml that is being ranked for competitive keywords. In fact, he mentions that it has a PageRank of 4.

Danny Sullivan responds to explain this "anomaly."

Sure, anything can have a PR score, if you can link to it. All those links add up. But can it pass PR elsewhere. Look at the cached copy of your page: rss.xml. The "links" aren't proper links -- no PR passing. Well, to be honest, Google probably could parse out the links to use for PR purposes, if it wanted. But I wouldn't be depending on that.

To summarize, RSS is used for syndicating content. It helps to bring Google to the awareness of the pages on your website, but there is no benefit to linking to an XML file.

Discussion continues at Search Engine Watch Forums.

This article was written this past Monday and scheduled for publication on Wednesday, May 23rd.

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