Priority Values in XML Sitemaps Explained
XML sitemaps protocol was originally created by Google and called Google Sitemaps. Later other search engines such as Yahoo, Ask and MSN adopted the Google Sitemaps format, and Google Sitemaps got renamed into Sitemaps Protocol. Common for both is they define a <priority></priority> tag which can be used by the website owner to help search engines determine which pages are most important.
Quick Facts About Priority Values
- Priority values are considered to be relative within your website.
- Valid priority values are: 0.0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0.
- Usually your most important page URL will have priority value: 1.0.
- Priority of pages in the XML sitemap should decrease after importance.
Priority Values and Search Engine Optimization
Setting priority values can not be considered search engine optimization. You can not set all pages to maximum priority and assume search engines will agree That said, here are some thoughts about how priorities in XML sitemaps are used:
- Pages with high priority values are likely to get indexed faster and crawled more often.
- Help search engines to decide which url to show if multiple pages from same website rank for search query.
- While highly speculative, one can imagine that if a website and XML sitemap is highly trusted, you might be able boost rankings in search engine result pages, just like good internal linking within a website can.
Always ensure you have backlinks, i.e. incoming links. This will improve chances that search engines index and crawl all urls listed in your XML sitemap.
How to Set Priorities in XML Sitemaps
Never use the same priority value for all pages, better to leave priority values out of your XML sitemaps! You can set priority value for all pages manually, but this quickly gets tedious if you have a large website.
If you use our XML sitemaps software A1 Sitemap Generator you can have all priority values calculated. It does so by counting and weighing importance of all internal links within a website and converting this into a priority value for each URL in the XML sitemap. Infact, you can choose any of the following ways to handle priority values:
- Have XML sitemap priority values calculated based on all internal links within the website. There is a setting to prevent “extreme values” to be used, e.g. 0.0. This is the default configuration.
- Override priority and set same value for all pages, e.g. 0.5.
- Leave out priority values in total. This is probably preferred to using the same value for all pages.
For more information about how priority values are calculated, see our XML sitemaps priority value article.