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Are XML Sitemaps a Google Ranking Factor?

Given that XML sitemaps are designed to help Google, site owners might think they play a role in search rankings.But, is this the truth?

Not to be confused with HTML sitemaps, HTML sitemaps are designed to be viewed by humans, and XML sitemaps are only meant for search engines.

Given that XML sitemaps are designed to help Google, site owners might think they play a role in search rankings. SEO experts even believe that XML sitemaps are critical to search, and the lack of XML sitemaps can negatively impact rankings.

Other claims suggest that Google has moved beyond the need for XML sitemaps, and site owners can ditch them entirely.Is it possible that XML sitemaps have nothing to do with rankings despite being only used by search crawlers?

This chapter will answer this question as we investigate various claims about XML sitemaps being a Google search ranking factor.

Disclaimer: XML sitemaps are a ranking factor

An XML sitemap is a list of a website's pages that helps Google discover new URLs and identify when existing URLs have changed.

XML sitemaps are often recommended as SEO best practices, with a statement that they are necessary for a website to reach its full potential.

SEO experts may point out that the lack of an XML sitemap is a red flag that prevents a site from appearing in search results.

Contrary to these claims, an emerging school of thought believes that XML sitemaps are irrelevant for search rankings.

Not at all.It just means it won't be used for ranking.

Sitemap files help ensure that Google knows where to find all of your site's pages.

They also speed up the indexing of new and updated web pages.

However, Google is able to crawl and index pages on its own, which is why there is no inherent ranking advantage to having an XML sitemap.

A better solution is to build a website structured to be easy for Google to navigate.

This will allow all internal links to be discovered naturally.

And, if there are enough external links to a site, Google's crawlers will come back often without pinging through the XML sitemap.

XML Sitemaps as Ranking Factors: Our Verdict

We are confident to say that XML sitemaps are not a Google ranking factor.

XML sitemaps are known to have an impact on indexing, but not ranking.

Even if this were the case, an XML sitemap is not a requirement for indexing, nor does it guarantee that the dataset will be indexed.

However, there is no harm in having an XML sitemap.

Although Google usually recommends it to large sites with frequently changing URLs.

Extended reading:

Is EAT a ranking factor in Google search?

Is TF-IDF a Google ranking factor?

Is Schema Markup a Google ranking factor?

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