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sitemap.xml for website with forum

Posted on 2014-12-26
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Last Modified: 2014-12-30
We have a website dedicated to our ActiveX and .NET components that has been working for more than 12 years. The site consists of 2 parts: the static part (product descriptions and articles) and the dynamic part (forum dedicated to our tools).

Google indexes the static part without any problems - all the pages are found due to a good textual hyperlink menu system. These pages also have good positions in SERPs.

However, many SEO pro's insist that we need to have a sitemap.xml file to enhance the positions of our website in the "eyes" of Google or other search engines like Bing. My 2 questions related to this are the followings:

1) Do we really need sitemap.xml for our website?

2) If so, how to code the dynamic forum pages in it?
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Question by:Ed70
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by:Tej Pratap Shukla ~Dexter
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Hi..

Sitemap.xml  informs the bots  of Search Engine that your URLs of websites are ready and available for the crawling.
Sitemaps are beneficial if: -

1). Some areas of the website are not available through the browsable interface.
2). webmasters use rich Ajax, Silverlight, or Flash content that is not normally processed by search engines.

So i will recommend you to use Sitemap.xml to your website.

A sample of the XML code used in a Sitemap looks like this: -

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>http://URL/</loc>
    <lastmod>2012-04-30</lastmod>
    <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
    <priority>1.0</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>http://URL</loc>
    <changefreq>yearly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.4</priority>
  </url>
</urlset>
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by:Ed70
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Dexter,

1). Some areas of the website are not available through the browsable interface.
2). webmasters use rich Ajax, Silverlight, or Flash content that is not normally processed by search engines.

Both points aren't applicable to my website, so I can't conclude from your answer that sitemap.xml is really needed for my website.
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by:Tej Pratap Shukla ~Dexter
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Ok Dear, but if you will add sitemap.xml will add extra benefit to your site: -

Your sitemap can list all URLs from your site. This could include pages that aren't otherwise discoverable by the search engines.

Giving the search engines priority information. There is an optional tag in the sitemap for the priority of the page. This is an indication of how important a given page is relevant to all the others on your site. This allows the search engines to order the crawling of their website based on priority information.

Passing temporal information. Two other optional tags (lastmod and changefreq) pass more information to the search engines that should help them crawl your site in a more optimal way. "lastmod" tells them when a page last changed, and changefreq indicates how often the page is likely to change.

Being able to pass extra information to the search engines *should* result in them crawling your site in a more optimal way. Google itself point out the information you pass is considered as hints, though it would appear to benefit both webmasters and the search engines if they were to use this data to crawl the pages of your site according to the pages you think have a high priority.
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by:Ed70
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Dexter,
Being able to pass extra information to the search engines *should* result in them crawling your site in a more optimal way.
This is more related to our website. I do know that we optimize the work of search bots doing this, but the question is: will we enhance our SERP positions in this case?

And what about the forum pages? Is it ok if we list only the static pages in our sitemap.xml?
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by:Tej Pratap Shukla ~Dexter
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Yes sure sitemap.xml will help you to enhance SERP of your website because sitemap.xml helps Google bots in deep crawling.
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by:Ed70
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I do not see why SE bots will scan my pages deeper after adding sitemap.xml. It seems the only good reason to implement sitemap.xml for my site is to tell SE bots what pages are the most important for my subject, but we can't say that this will enhance our good SERP positions for sure...
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Expert Comment

by:Tej Pratap Shukla ~Dexter
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You should add all those pages linked from the index page. Apart from that you can add pages that you like most important for you.
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Gary earned 500 total points
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many SEO pro's insist that we need to have a sitemap.xml file
Makes no difference, it won't make Google index your pages any sooner or quicker (that is from horses mouth)
It's sole purpose is to tell Google about your pages if they are not found by any other link and new pages added to the site

I have a 4000 page site, Google has no problem adding new pages as they are found.

HTML sitemaps on the other hand are a different thing
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hi5DGOu1uA0
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by:Gary
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what pages are the most important for my subject, but we can't say that this will enhance our good SERP positions for sure
Correct, Google decides what is relevant to what the user is searching,
I don't think Priority has been used for years, at least as far as Bing/Google is concerned.
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by:Jason C. Levine
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(No points for this post, please: I am agreeing with another Expert)

Correct. Priority in sitemaps are ignored and has been for a while.  The search engines determine their own priority.

About the only reason to have a site map in your case would be to provide the search engines with a list of crawl able forum threads.  If you rolled your own forum, you would have to roll your own sitemap generator too. Otherwise, most off-the-shelf forum products can either produce a sitemap or have an add-on that can do it.  Worst case scenario is using a third-party spider to produce the map.
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