It was more than a decade back when government sites used to have a sitemap, a page that contained a list of all the pages on the website. A number of websites use HTML sitemaps. However, evolution in the technology has now given rise to XML sitemaps instead of HTML sitemaps. The target audience for the sitemaps is search engines and not people as they hardly take time to view the sitemaps.
While theoretically, the search engines will be able to find all the pages by following the links on your website, it still proves to be helpful to have a sitemap for completeness and take the advantage of the benefits of the webmaster tools. Even your inbound marketing strategies should include this vital step in order to attract search engines.
From SEO’s perspective, it is vital to:
- Build an XML sitemap
- Keep it up-to-date in order to help improve the chances of being crawled.
It is important to have each and every page of your site crawled and indexed in the search engine. If you have a sitemap, the search engines will rely on it to get a complete list of pages. In addition to that supplemental information about the pages will be provided, though it will not directly help in search rankings.
Sitemaps are quite useful for new websites and blogs. Getting backlinks is a tough task for a new blog, thus search engines are not able to discover your posts and pages. Sitemaps allow such websites to send signals to the search engines to crawl the site more efficiently.
For well-known sites, sitemaps allow your website to interact efficiently with the search engines. Search engines come to know how often your site is being updated, which parts of your website are frequently updated, set the crawl rate for your site, and more. The overall visibility of your website gets enhanced for the search engines.
How To Create An XML Sitemap
The basic anatomy of an XML sitemap is given below:
This anatomy specifies the areas where you could provide information on the URL’s that you desire to be crawled.
Some content management systems like WordPress allows the functionality for dynamic or auto-generated sitemaps.
How To Create A Sitemap in WordPress?
There are numerous ways in which you could create an XML sitemap on WordPress. However, the most convenient is the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin to generate the sitemaps.
The plugin also enables optimizing blog posts for search engines along with social integration and more features. It also offers a video sitemap.
When you check on the box to enable SML sitemap, WordPress SEO will show you other options that could be configured for the Sitemaps. If you are unsure about what to do with them, ignore them and click the “Save Settings” Tab.
Your sitemap has now been generated and accessible by the search engines. WordPress SEO will be shown an XML sitemap button which could be clicked to view the sitemap_index.xml sitemap.
How to Upload and Submit The Sitemap On Google Webmasters?
Now that the standard XML sitemap is built, you will upload the file to your site. The file should be residing directly off the root, with a relevant page and naming convention such as /sitemap.xml.
Once this is done go to the Google Webmasters Tools and submit the sitemap.
Along with all the efforts that go into the development of great content, taking some additional time to optimize your site is also a great way of attracting search engines.