4

A little while ago I discovered an XML sitemap where the sitemap itself was included.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"> 
  <!-- ... More uls ... -->
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml</loc> 
  </url>
</urlset>

Is this a mistake? Or was it done because they want it to be like that?
How does it affect SEO?
Does it let the crawler crawl to the sitemap again so all the pages are crawled more times?

  • "...because they want it...?" - that's not really a reason! ;) It's possible that it was an oversight... their CMS/Framework/plugin/script may have simply added it automatically?! – MrWhite Oct 31 '14 at 16:13
4

Yeah. I have seen this too. You are not alone.

I don't see any reason to do this. In fact it is redundant isn't it? And since sitemaps are designed to inform search engine about resources to be indexed and sitemaps are not indexed, it seems rather pointless. It was always a silly thing to do. You will see silly things all over the place especially in particular to the web and SEO so please take all of what you read with a serious dose of salt.

You did the right thing by asking.

Sitemaps have no effect on SEO in regard to site/page ranking and SERP placement. There is one performance metric that a sitemap can positively effect; whether a site is considered crawlable if there is a barrier that blocks the site from being crawled by the bot.

They are designed to inform search engines what resources that are available on any particular site. This is because there may be resources that are not linked, behind a login, or far too vast for timely discovery. End of story. If your site is smaller or medium sized, then search engines will likely prefer to just crawl your site. What they will do is read your sitemap, and compare it to their ability to crawl your site. If there is no difference and the site is small enough for natural discovery, then they will continue to crawl your site the old fashioned way. But still, from time to time they will compare your sitemap again to make sure that they are on track. If you suddenly expand your site, they may read from your sitemap. It is a good thing to do regardless, but not necessary for every site.

  • You said that sitemaps does not have any effect on SEO at all. I don't think so. From Google: "Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.". SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization, so actually we are improving Google. We do this to make the search query relevant to the search results and so to your site. An option to do that is a sitemap i think. You could tell Google how important a page is in your site, how uptodate the page is and some information about the url. But i didn't really think it's a good thing to do. But can it be very bad? – Andreas Furster Oct 31 '14 at 22:11
  • @AndreasFurster Be careful reading into what Google says too much. Much of it is to benefit Google and a some of it is pure B.S. Sitemaps have absolutely NO EFFECT on search engine optimization. None. There are no metrics or database elements within the Google schema associated with sitemap data elements at all. Essentially, other than intelligently loading the fetch queue, the sitemap has no value. Often, it is completely ignored once compared to crawling a site the old fashioned way. Certainly, you cannot claim that search performance for any site increases by introducing a sitemap. – closetnoc Oct 31 '14 at 23:06
  • "Sitemaps have no effect on SEO what so ever" is a bit of an exaggeration. See: The Sitemap Paradox Sitemaps can change Google from the standpoint of canonical URLs and content discovery. Having them also gives you more info in webmaster tools. Its true that they don't have much effect on rankings. – Stephen Ostermiller Nov 1 '14 at 14:05
  • @StephenOstermiller Which is precisely my point. Sitemaps have absolutely no effect on search performance for any given page, however, they do help in getting Google to index your site. Google, for some sites, really likes sitemaps and will index a site faster- up to the limit that Google feels your site can handle. But getting a page into the index is not optimizing. You cannot optimize what does not exist yet. There is no effect a sitemap can have on an already indexed page to make it perform better in search. But it does help sites get noticed and indexed granted. – closetnoc Nov 1 '14 at 15:48
  • 3
    I think 'sitemaps have no effect on search rankings' is a slightly clearer way of putting it, and I'd agree, but they're still worth having. – Tim Fountain Nov 2 '14 at 1:10

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.