XML Sitemaps: Dexy’s Midnight Runners of SEO

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
It reminds me of  the horseshoe nail proverb:
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.


Learn more about XML sitemaps at Google Webmaster Tools.


PS: “Come on, Eileen” makes me involuntarily dance like Elaine. It’s not pretty but I love the song anyway.

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.

Redesign with SEO in Mind

A site redesign or switch to a new platform is kind of like a rebirth – it’s one of the most exciting and nerve-wracking times for the entire Internet marketing team. With everyone caught up in the branding, design, usability and technology, the impact on SEO can sometimes be forgotten until the last minute.

I wrote this article on redesigning a site with SEO in mind back in July for MultichannelMerchant.com and gave up looking for it to be published… so I missed its publish date in September. Maybe you did too. Here’s a redux of the original article.

While it’s difficult to determine what the natural search impact will be until working code hits a development server, keeping several mantras in mind and repeating them liberally will keep the team focused on the most critical elements to plan for SEO success. I love these mantras — I actually say them to myself as I’m auditing sites.

SEO Development Mantras

  1. Links must be crawlable with JavaScript, CSS and cookies disabled.
  2. Plain text must be indexable on the page with JavaScript & CSS disabled.
  3. Every page must send a unique keyword signal.
  4. One URL for one page of content.
  5. We’re going to 301 that, right?

When a site is stable on the development environment and the URLs are ironed out, identify a 301 redirect plan, build the new XML sitemap and make sure you have a measurement plan in place to measure the impact of the relaunch.

All this in more detail at the original article at Multichannel Merchant: https://multichannelmerchant.com/ecommerce/0901-using-seo-redesign/index.html

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Originally posted on Web PieRat.