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XML Sitemaps DON’T Equal High Rankings

High organic rankings are achieved by good SEO, not good sitemaps.

The most important thing to remember about XML sitemaps is that they’re only as good as the website they represent.

In a way, an XML sitemap in and of itself isn’t SEO at all – instead it simply reflects the SEO on your website, good or bad. Sure, XML sitemaps need to be formatted optimally. But the most amazing, well-formatted XML sitemap means nothing if your on-site SEO sucks. What XML sitemap protocols one uses (outlined here http://www.sitemaps.org/protocol.html), how often the sitemap is updated, etc. are all important, but nothing compared to good overall SEO.

For instance, even if you give priority to one page vs. another in your XML sitemap, Google is still going to determine on its own which pages it prioritizes based on… you guessed it: SEO (which pages are best optimized, have the highest page authority, etc.).

That said, you always want the search engines to index as much content as possible, provided that it’s well-optimized content. And a good sitemap helps toward that end. But at the end of the day… good, compelling, optimized content is primary. If that’s the case, then Google will find that content one way or another, with or without a good sitemap.

Search engines can easily find pages even if they’re not in your sitemap – when a page is back-linked to from another page / site, for instance. Conversely, listing a page in your XML sitemap, does not guarantee the search engines will choose to index or rank that page. Yes, the search engines want to know about all your content, but they decide which pages get picked up and rank high, based on one thing: good on-site and off-site SEO.

2 Responses to “XML Sitemaps DON’T Equal High Rankings”

  1. Jeremy Rivera

    There’s always those people who want a “magic bullet”, and the truth is there is only one “magic bullet” to dramatically change your rankings…unfortunately it’s a disallow: / in your robots and it will put that bullet right through your website’s rankings head. Boom.

    However, I do agree that there IS value in making sure your XML sitemaps are not only up to date, but they are free from errors, like listing URLs you want to block via robots.txt!

    Reply
  2. Matt Dalbey

    Jeremy – Thanks for the comment. I totally agree. XML sitemaps are important… you gotta have ’em. That said, sitemaps and websites remind me of the relationship between the moon and sun. The moon simply reflects the light of the sun. So also, the job of a sitemap is to “reflect” the website. If the website is no good, then the best formatted sitemap in the world won’t matter.

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