7 Best Practices for Optimizing XML Sitemaps


When it comes to the technical part of SEO, there are several things to perform to ensure the site is having a solid optimization foundation. One such aspect is XML sitemaps. This is among the most important things to optimize for good SEO and most people overlook this aspect. If you are new to SEO, you can understand sitemap as an index for your website which has all the pages, blogs, and important resources listed on that.

So, it becomes very important to optimize that well so that the bots can scan it easily. In this article, we will have a look at some easy steps to optimize it. And, if you don’t have an in-house team, you can opt for the best SEO agency to get this done for you.

1. Use tools or plugins for creating it

It’s pivotal to create an accurate sitemap that has all the important pages listed. And, the best way to prepare it using freely available online tools or plugins. There is no need to code the entire sitemap manually. You can use the Google XML Sitemaps tool to generate it. On the other hand, if you are running a WordPress website, then there are plenty of plugins to pick from. To save both time and effort, it’s better to create it using a tool.

2. Submitting it to Google

Only the best SEO agency can tell you that just creating the sitemap is not enough, to gain an edge, you need to submit it to Google so that you can get all the pages under Google bot’s radar as quickly as possible. Use the Google Search Console tool to submit your sitemap and test it if there are any errors in it. Once you submit it and everything is fine, you will see a success message on your GSC dashboard.

3. Give priority to high-quality pages

One smart XML sitemap optimization tip is to focus on your high-quality pages because Google pays a lot of attention to quality. Your high-quality pages may include well-written content, images, videos, and more. For keeping the sitemap lite, always ensure to discard thin content pages like login pages, forms, tags, and more. It’s always better to manually review the sitemaps once you create them using any tool. If you feel there is no need for certain pages, you can discard them.

4. Only include the canonical version of URLs

It happens quite often that a website has multiple pages that are almost the same and the content present on those pages are also identical. So in this condition, you need to make sure that the sitemap only has canonical URLs versions of the site. This is an important thing to follow as it tells Google and other search engines which are the preferred pages.

5. Prefer Robots Meta Tag Over Robots.txt

This is a part of the advanced SEO and it’s useful when you don’t want search engines to index certain pages but you want their authority to remain intact. In this scenario, you need to use ‘noindex, follow tag’ instead of simply deindexing on the Robots.txt file.

The ideal scenario for using a normal Robots.txt file will be when you want to deindex a page and save your crawl budget for other pages.

6. Optimizing sitemaps for large sites

When you are running large websites that have hundreds or even thousands of pages to cater to in the XML sitemap, then its always better to use dynamic sitemaps instead of the normal ones. In dynamic sitemaps, you can define custom rules when or when not to include pages in the sitemap for the indexation process and optimize the crawl budget. It’s always recommended t hire the best SEO agency that can handle all these things with care.

7. Update modification times wisely

This is a crucial thing that most people mistake and they over-optimize their sitemap. It is highly recommended by the webmasters that you should only reindex pages when you have made some major changes on the pages. Manually re-indexing pages, again and again, will do more harm than benefitting.

These were the top seven tips for optimizing the XML sitemaps in the right manner. Follow these simple tips to make sure your site’s SEO remains intact. And, if you don’t have an in-house SEO team, hire the best SEO agency and get it done for your site.