Do my sitemaps need to be indexed for Google to be able to use them?
Some plugins, like RankMath and Yoast, set sitemaps as ‘noindex’ which means that the pages cannot be found in a Google search. In the past, this has led to some confusion with users thinking that this would hurt their SEO. The good news is that this isn’t the case and your sitemap’s index status does not impact your SERP rankings.
Is it important for my sitemap to use Priority and Changefreq tags?
According to Google’s John Mueller, the search engine no longer considers priority and changefreq tags on sitemaps. You can safely ignore these fields as it seems unlikely that Google will return to user self reporting for priority and change frequency.
Why do I need a sitemap, can’t Google just find all of my pages from my homepage links?
Search engine crawlers are very effective, but they can only find pages via links from other pages. This means that unless your website is 100% perfectly internally linked, there is a very real chance that Google will miss some of your content.
Pages with no internal links pointing to them, so-called ‘orphan’ pages, are always going to struggle to rank, but without a sitemap they are entirely invisible to Google.
What does it mean to set a URL within my sitemap index as Canonical?
Canonical tags are used when there are multiple variations of the same page – perhaps due to region specific pages or dedicated mobile versions. These tags hint to Google that you’d prefer to use one page over another in the search results – but ultimately Google will use its discretion to determine which page will be shown.
Sitemaps: Following the Blueprints of SEO Success
While sitemaps mostly operate behind the scenes, they are an important tool for digital marketing. They improve your site’s SEO, make navigation a breeze for visitors, and serve as a handy guide for your website planning process.
If you’re digitally DIY-savvy, it isn’t particularly hard to make sure that your website’s sitemap is set up and working properly. However, if you are interested in taking your digital marketing to the next level consider working with a marketing agency with proven SEO results.