Wish Google gave you more ranking data about your site? Take a number!
At Priceonomics, we make price guides for everything from Bikes to Computer Monitors. It’s really helpful for us to know which verticals are ranking poorly/well so that we can focus our SEO efforts accordingly. Obviously, indexation is not the ultimate metric you care about, but it’s still important to look at. Great indexation doesn’t mean you have great SEO mojo, but low indexation probably means you need some work. If your indexation is low, you want to know if it’s low across the board or if there are certain groups of pages that perform poorly. Here’s a cool hack to help answer that question: Sitemap Segmentation.
If you look at priceonomics’ sitemap, you’ll see that we have a separate sitemap for each category (there are multiple sitemaps for verticals that have too many URLs to fit in one sitemap). Why does that matter? Take a look at our sitemaps in Google Webmaster Tools:
(you can find your own report in Google Webmaster Tools under Site configuration >> Sitemaps
This means we can see that our used car price guide is a poor performer since it doesn’t quite have the same nearly perfect indexation as the rest of our price guides (i.e. our used bike price guide). Coming up with the why is a lot harder, but if I had to guess I’d say it’s that we’re a new site and used car price guides are already very plentiful.
Now that you can easily measure your indexation by sitemap, group your sitemaps however makes the most sense for your business. Intermediate SEOs can use this to keep tabs on their indexation and diagnose any potential problems more rapidly, while Advanced SEOs can include this in their A/B testing to try and determine the effect of various site changes on indexation. Unfortunately, Google doesn’t give historical access to this data, so if you care enough about it, you’ll have to download it periodically.
Happy sitemap generation!