Excerpts from my latest article at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Understanding XML Sitemaps.”

XML sitemaps serve a very niche purpose in search engine optimization: facilitating indexation. Posting an XML sitemap is kind of like rolling out the red carpet for search engines and giving them a roadmap of the preferred routes through the site. It’s the site owner’s chance to tell crawlers, “I’d really appreciate it if you’d focus on these URLs in particular, thanks.” Whether the engines accept those recommendations of which URLs to crawl depends on the signals the site is sending.

Simply put, an XML sitemap is a bit of Extensible Markup Language (XML), a standard machine-readable format consumable by search engines and other data-munching programs like feed readers. XML sitemaps convey information about one thing, the URLs that make up a site. Each XML sitemap file follows the same basic form.

Read the article in full, including examples and a Q&A at Practical eCommerce: “SEO: Understanding XML Sitemaps“»

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