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Is XML Sitemap A Ranking Factor?

Is XML Sitemap A Ranking Factor?

XML sitemaps are not to be confused with HTML sitemaps, which are aimed at human viewing. XML sitemaps are just for search engines.

Benefits of having an XML sitemap

Having a XML sitemap on your website provides search engines with extra information.

They also:

• List all the URLs on your site. And this includes pages that search engines would not have found.

• Give page priority to engines and therefore crawl priority. You can add a tag in your XML sitemap that indicates which pages are the most important. Therefore, the bots will target these priority pages first.

• Give temporary information. You can also include two other optional tags that will pass additional data to search engines to help them crawl your website. 

• Return you information from Google Webmaster Central. You can access Googlebot activity, for example.

Since XML sitemaps are meant to help Google, site owners can assume that they play a role in search rankings. SEO experts even suggest that XML sitemaps are so crucial to search that the absence of one can negatively affect rankings.

Alternative claims suggest that Google has outgrown the need for XML sitemaps, and site owners can do without them altogether.

Even though they are only used by search crawlers, is it possible that XML sitemaps have nothing to do with rankings? We shall try to answer this question.

The Argument

XML sitemaps are a ranking component, according to the argument. An XML sitemap is a list of pages on a website that Google uses to find new URLs and identify changes to old ones.

XML sitemaps are often recommended as an SEO best practice, with claims suggesting that they are necessary for a website to rank to its full potential. SEO experts may point to the absence of an XML sitemap as a red flag that prevents a website from appearing in search results.

Contrary to those claims, an emerging school of thought says that XML sitemaps are inconsequential for search rankings. Unless your CMS automatically generates an XML sitemap, more site owners choose not to add one.

Are they doing their website a disservice? At least one of the above statements must be correct. In the next section, we’ll see what Google has to say.

Google’s Opinion

Evidence indicates that XML sitemaps are not a factor in search rankings. When asked if there are any ranking issues or disadvantages associated with not having an XML sitemap, Google’s Gary Illyes confirmed that there aren’t.

Does that mean there is no reason to have an XML sitemap? Not at all. It simply means that it will not be used in ranking. A sitemap file can help ensure that Google knows where to find all the pages on a website.

They can also speed up the indexing of new and updated pages. However, Google can crawl and index pages on its own, so there is no inherent ranking advantage to having an XML sitemap.

A much better solution to this is to create a website with a structure that is easy for Google to navigate. This will cause all internal links to be discovered naturally.

And, with enough external links pointing to a website, Google’s crawlers will return frequently without needing to be pinged by an XML sitemap. 


We are sure that XML sitemaps are not a Google ranking factor. XML sitemaps are known to have an effect on indexing, but not ranking.

Even with that being the case, XML sitemaps are not required for indexing, nor do they guarantee indexing. An XML sitemap, even then, is perfectly acceptable.

Although Google usually recommends them for large sites with frequently changing URLs. 

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