What is a Sitemap?
A site map is a map of your site that lists all of the web pages that exist on your site. The sitemap is then submitted to a search engine to tell it about all of these pages so that each page can be indexed, and you have a much better chance of showing up in the search results for relevant searches.
A sitemap is conceptually similar to a table of contents. Industry experts recommend that the site map should be the first document created when creating a website. This is because a well-planned sitemap can help improve the organization of a site and focus its theme, which may in turn influence rankings. In addition, a well-planned site map can ensure your website is well crawled and fully indexed by the search engines.
A website is more than just a home page. In fact, it is useful to visualize a website as a combination of mini websites with each internal page being a fully-fledged website. Think of each webpage as a pathway into your site. The larger the number of webpages, the more pathways through which visitors can gain access to the site because the search engines tend to rank webpages not websites.
This means that if you create one high quality web page every week in a year, you’ll have 56 additional doors that a visitor can use to access your website. However, if those internal pages are not found and indexed in the search engines, then you will not gain the advantages of all these extra pathways. This underlines why a sitemap is very important.
Site maps are very important because they provide links to all of the key pages of your site. Without a sitemap, the search engine spider would have to hunt around for links to other pages of the site. This increases the chances of Google returning your webpage in the search results whenever a relevant query is performed.
The Google Sitemaps Program
The Google Sitemaps Program was setup by Google to help webmasters make it easier for their sites’ pages to be crawled and indexed by the search crawlers. You need to submit an XML sitemap through your Google Search Console to take part. If you have a WordPress site, you can install a plugin such as Yoast that automatically creates the sitemap for you.
It is important to note that there’s no guarantee that a URL will be crawled or indexed simply by adding it to the sitemap. However, a sitemap can help ensure that hard to find pages get crawled and indexed. Note that the sitemaps on your site should be updated whenever the site is updated.
If you have used Yoast to create your sitemap, it should automatically update your sitemap every time you add a new post to your site. However, if you’ve create a new post and you cannot find the webpage in the search results, you can manually add the webpage manually to Google’s index using the following URL:
An XML site map is a type of sitemap that is specifically created for search engine crawlers. It uses the Sitemap Protocol and contains a comprehensive list of the URLs for a site. The Protocol was written by the major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Live Search) to be highly scalable so that it can accommodate sites of any size.
An XML site map also enables webmasters to include additional information about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently cra
XML Sitemaps promote faster crawling and indexing of your site. Additionally, many sitemap tools can diagnose your site map, informing you of duplicate content, broken links, and areas that the spider can’t access.
HTML sitemaps are often neglected mainly because of the ease with which you can select an XML sitemap, and not have to worry about it for the most part.
An HTML sitemap is exactly the same as an XML sitemap in concept in that it is a comprehensive map that lists out the structure of your website with links to all of the URLs on your site. The difference, as you might have guessed, is that it is created in HTML, and it is mainly for human visitors rather than search engines unlike XML sitemaps which can only be understood by search engine robots. An HTML sitemap can help your site’s SEO because it is an web page, and if you get links to it, it can spread that link juice directly to all of the URLs on your site.
Creating HTML Sitemaps can be straightforward for small sites. You can build an HTML sitemap using a simple text editor such as Notepad. For larger sites, you can use any of the following automated tools:
Uploading your Sitemap
When your Sitemap file has been created, you need to upload the file to your site in the highest-level directory you want search engines to crawl. This is typically the root directory of the site. Note however, that if you list URLs in your Sitemap that are at a higher level than your Sitemap location, the search engines will be unable to include those URLs as part of the Sitemap submission.
Validating Your Sitemap
There is no point in hosting XML Sitemaps if you are not able to confirm that they pass validation. Google provides an interface via Google Search Console to test your XML Sitemap for errors and submit. You can submit your Bing sitemap through your Bing Webmaster Tools.
Submitting your website’s sitemap is a very straight forward process with your web browser. Simply browse to the full ping URL and you are done. Note however, that this is merely an acknowledgment that your submission was received. It does not indicate anything about the validity of the Sitemap.