One SEO professional asked John during a Question and Answer segment about their sitemaps.
They explained that they are trying to make sure that their rankings don’t take a hit as they roll out a new search results page. For some context, their searches can result in 10,000 results and they have filtering and sorting functionality.
Their question is: how does Google treat these pages within websites? How do the search results affect the overall ranking for the site?
Is it enough to continue submitting sitemaps for ranking reasons? Or should they take additional measures to help Googlebot gather all of the returnable URLs?
John did a bit of a different answer this time, and answered the last question first: he said he would not rely on sitemaps to find all of the pages of your website.
Instead, sitemaps should be a way to give additional information about your website. It should not be the primary way that people find information through your website.
In particular, internal linking is super important. And something you should definitely watch out for and make sure that however you set things up, when someone crawls your site, they are able to find all your content, and not rely on the sitemap file to get all these things.
From that perspective, being able to go to these category pages perhaps, and being able to crawl through category pages for the product is also very important. Search results pages, John believes, are a bit of a unique area, because some sites use category pages like search results pages.
Then you’re in that situation where search results pages are acting like category pages.
If this is the case for you, then John would watch out for everything that you would do with category pages.
The other thing with search results pages is that people can enter anything in search and your site has to do all this work to generate all of these things.
And this can easily result in an infinite number of URLs that are theoretically findable on your site, because people can search in a lot of different ways.
Because this basically creates a set of infinite pages on your site, that’s something that Google tries to discourage where they would say: “either set the search results pages to noindex, or use robots.txt to block crawling over these pages.”
That way, Google can focus on the normal site structure and the normal internal linking.
John believes that those would be the primary aspects to this problem there.
If you do want to have your search results pages indexed, then John’s tip would be to make sure that on one hand, you have one primary sort order and filtering setup that’s set as the canonical. So if you don’t know how to choose or provide your pages by relevance, then if you have a source filter for price, then he would set the rel=canonical of these filters to the primary sort order.
This happens at approximately the 37:49 mark in the video.