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How Important Are `changefreq` and `priority` in Your SEO Sitemap?

Matt Oakley - 13 February 2018
How Important Are `changefreq` and `priority` in Your SEO Sitemap?
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There’s much debate on SEO forums about the and tags in XML sitemaps. What purpose do they serve and just how important are they?

New to sitemaps for SEO? You may want to read: What is an XML Sitemap?

Each page listed in a sitemap may contain values for the <changefreq> and priority properties. <changefreq> is used to tell search engines how often your page is updated. <priority> let’s you specify how important you consider your pages in relation to one another.

The purpose of these tags is to allow website owners to influence search engines when crawling and indexing.

Despite the debate, the fact is that these tags are irrelevant to most, if not all, search engines today. Including them will do you no harm but don’t expect search engines to respect them.

How do we know this? Back in 2015, John Mueller from Google discussed this in a Hangout. You can watch the video below with the information about <changefreq> and <priority> beginning at 29:36.

So there you have it, straight from the source. Google prefers to use the <lastmod> tag to decide itself when to crawl a page. Additionally it takes many other factors into account when deciding on a page’s priority.

If you’re using Middleman to generate static websites, you may be interested in our Middleman SEO Sitemap plugin.

Still got questions? We are SEO experts and work alongside website owners to help them achieve higher rankings in Google. Feel free to get in touch for an informal chat about your project.

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