Google published a set of best practices for XML sitemaps and RSS/Atom feeds on its Webmaster Central Blog this week, explaining which fields in sitemaps are important, when to use XML sitemaps and RSS/Atom feeds, and how to optimize them for Google.
Google explains the differences between the formats by saying that XML sitemaps describe a whole set of URLs within a site, while RSS/Atom feeds only describe the most recent changes. As a result of XML sitemaps containing more information, they are typically larger than RSS/Atom feeds. XML sitemaps are also downloaded less frequently.
As a website owner, which format should you use if you want your website to be crawled to the best of Google’s ability. Google recommends using both, explaining how the formats compliment each other.
XML sitemaps give Google information about all the pages on your site, while RSS/Atom feeds let Google know what has been most recently updated on your site. Google also adds that “submitting sitemaps or feeds does not guarantee the indexing of those URLs.”
Here is a condensed version of best practices Google laid out in their blog article:
For more information, see Google’s full blog article.
Article resource: Search Engine Journal