Yesterday on the train, Brian R. Brown and I were chatting about orphaned pages, XML sitemaps and indexation without benefits. Brian referred to XML sitemaps as the “one hit wonder of SEO.” Brilliant! XML sitemaps, like Dexy’s Midnight Runners, are one hit wonders.
Dexy’s Midnight Runners, for those of you who missed the 80s, are famous for their one hit “Come on, Eileen.” XML sitemaps are famous for inviting the crawl. And just like Dexy’s Midnight Runners don’t have any other great songs, XML sitemaps really don’t provide anything other than a way to request that search engine spiders crawl your site. This comparison just begs for a Weird Al-style lyrics mod:
Come on Crawl Me,
I swear (well he means)
At this sitemap
You’ll find everything…
Actually Blondie’s “Call Me” was screaming for a “Crawl Me” spoof, but you can hardly call Blondie a one-hit wonder. Anyway, back to XML sitemaps.
What XML Sitemaps Do
- Invite search engines to crawl specific URLs
What XML Sitemaps Do Not Do
- Guarantee crawling of URLs included in the XML sitemap
- Block crawling of URLs not included in the XML sitemap
- Guarantee indexation
- Improve rankings
- Drive traffic or sales
For want of the crawl indexation was lost.
For want of indexation rankings were lost.
For want of rankings the visitors were lost.
For want of visitors the site was lost.
And all for the want of a crawl.
I’m taking a few liberties, but the premise is the same. No crawl, no organic search visitors. End of story. In this regard, XML sitemaps play a role in the initial discovery of your URLs.
The XML sitemap rolls out the red carpet and invites search engines to crawl and index the URLs you’ve so thoughtfully included. This, in turn, can increase indexation for large, complex sites that contain of thousands of pages. On such sites it could take even a committed bot (like Googlebot) many visits to crawl the whole site, especially if it keeps encountering duplicate content. Less thorough bots (I’m looking at you Bingbot) might take even longer to discover new content. A conscientiously updated and autodiscoverable XML sitemap helps bots find new URLs, which should speed time to indexation and rankings if the content is valuable.
PS: “Come on, Eileen” makes me involuntarily dance like Elaine
. It’s not pretty but I love the song anyway.
Originally posted on Web PieRat.