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Matt Walker



Article Date

6 December 2021

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What are XML Sitemaps for?

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap (Extensible Markup Language) is a text file that lists all of a website’s URLs. It contains additional data (metadata) on each URL, such as when it was last changed, how essential it is, and whether there are any other copies of the URL created in other languages. All of this is done to make it easier for search engines to crawl your website, allowing any changes to be instantly fed to them, such as when a new page is added or an old one is removed.

Although an XML Sitemap does not guarantee that search engines will crawl and index your sites, having one boosts your chances, especially if your navigation or general internal linking strategy does not link to all of your pages.

Do I need an XML Sitemap?

In theory, no. Your website will still function without one, and search engines will be able to crawl and index it. Furthermore, sitemaps aren’t employed as a ranking signal, thus submitting one won’t help you climb the rankings. Indexing is the most important reason to develop and publish your XML sitemap. Adding a sitemap makes it much easier for search engines to locate your pages, even if they can still find them without one. You may have orphaned pages (pages that have been left out of internal linking) or pages that are difficult to locate. When you’ve recently added pages or developed a completely new site with no or few backlinks, your sitemap is very vital.

Sitemaps also aid in the intelligent crawling of your sites by search engines. You may be a little more proactive in attracting crawlers to your pages. By increasing a page’s priority, it’s more likely that it’ll be crawled and indexed more frequently and before less vital areas of your site.

The Bottom Line

When properly implemented, XML sitemaps aid search engines in quickly locating, crawling, and indexing webpages. To get the most out of your XML sitemap, make sure it’s properly formatted, compressed, and uploaded to search engines. Advantages include:

  • You can make sure that search engines are finding important information about images and videos, which are inaccessible to crawlers.
    • You no longer need to rely on linking to get your pages crawled.
    • Search engines will see new or updated sites and pages more quickly.
    • Crawlers can crawl pages more intelligently thanks to the meta information available in sitemaps.
  • You can make sure that search engines are finding important information about images and videos, which are inaccessible to crawlers.


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