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XML Sitemaps for Search Engines

Every website on theimagefile includes two files to guide search engines and other automated crawlers:

  1. robots.txt tells search engines which files they're not allowed to index. We maintain this file. (It lists certain admin and shopping pages that should never be indexed.) If you don't ever want any search engines to visit your site, set your website to PRIVATE (see below) to forbid bots completely.

  2. Your XML sitemap lists your web pages. Without a sitemap, search engines must "crawl" all the links on a website to find all pages. This takes a long time, and some content is missed, while other content is duplicated. Providing a sitemap allows search engines to instantly list everything that's available, including what's new and what's important.

At My Websites -> Main -> Domain Name and Settings -> Sitemaps and SEO, you choose:

What's included in your XML sitemap

Your sitemap will include everything listed at My Websites -> Main -> Pages -> Edit Web Pages except pages that are soft-deleted; require passwords; or have robots = none|noindex meta tags. These are called "public pages".

Your collections with Access Policy: Public will be included by default in the sitemap for your original Main website. If you have multiple websites, we don't re-list your Public collections on every website because that can cause search engines to assign a "duplicate content" penalty to your work. Also, many photographer's secondary websites will be used for specialty photography markets, personal projects, or friend's websites, and listing all the photographer's primary public collections on those secondary websites wouldn't be desired, expected, or appropriate. You can use the settings "CUSTOM" or "COMPLETE" under "Sitemaps and SEO" to control whether Public collections are listed in the sitemap. Even when not listed in the sitemap, search engines will still discover and index all individual collections and images linked from a websites's top-level pages.

From the Naming and Access page, you can click to view your sitemap. Although the XML is meant for computers to read, you'll be able to see all the links, and hopefully have a clear idea of what is included and what's not. Top-level public collections are listed first; then public web pages. If you see anything there that should not be public, you can remove it. For web pages, set the robots=none meta tag. For collections, change the Access Policy.

What's important

The sitemap assigns a relative importance to each web page. The maximum "1.0" is used for your HOME page, and "0.8" for all other public pages. "0.5" for Public collections.

What sitemap URL to give out

If you need to provide your sitemap URL, always give out this format:


(If you choose "BEST SEO", we'll publish a copy of your XML sitemap at /sitemap.xml, but that copy will disappear if you change to a different setting. The XML sitemap at /sitemap_auto.xml is always present and is the one you should register.)

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