If you own a website then it may be beneficial to create a sitemap, but do you know what a sitemap is and how it can benefit your business?
A sitemap is a blueprint of a website and contains specific information so that search engines can find, crawl, and index all of the content that is on your website.
Sitemaps are also used to highlight pages of importance within your website to search engines.
Having an up-to-date and accurately created sitemap can be hugely beneficial to how your website ranks on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Here we look at the different types of sitemaps, how to make one, and more.
Types Of Sitemap
There are four main types of sitemaps, these are:
- Image Sitemap: enables search engines to find each image hosted on your website
- News Sitemap: enables search engines to find content on a website that has previously been approved for Google News (a feature on the SERPs page)
- Normal XML Sitemap: this is the most common type of sitemap and it links different pages on your website in an XML sitemap format
- Video Sitemap: enables search engines to find and understand all video content hosted on your website
Importance Of Sitemap
A sitemap is very important as it helps search engines, such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find different web pages within your website.
While a sitemap is not essential, it is hugely beneficial for any company that is trying to improve its SERP ranking and create more of a presence online.
Sitemaps are particularly useful for new websites as usually search engines will find web pages through other links, new websites will have a limited number of external backlinks and so this means your website may not be found by search engines, or if it is it won’t feature on the first page of search results.
On the other hand, sitemaps are also useful for large eCommerce websites that may have hundreds of product pages.
Unless each page is internally linked with the utmost precision and multiple external links are used your product pages won’t be found to rank on the SERPs.
How To Make A Sitemap
Below we look at how to make a sitemap for your website and offer tips on how to optimize it for SEO which will also help with boosting a website’s SERP ranking.
Creating A Sitemap
Depending on what you use to manage your website there will be a range of different tools that you can use to create a sitemap. For example, if you use WordPress the YOAST SEO plugin can be used to create a sitemap for you.
The best part of YOAST is that it creates a fantastic XML sitemap that automatically updates meaning you have one less thing to worry about.
This means that each time you update your website and add a new webpage a link to that page will be automatically added to the sitemap.
Another fantastic plugin that is compatible to work alongside WordPress is Google XML sitemaps. This plugin also creates a sitemap for you but it will not update the sitemap when new pages are added to your website.
If you don’t use WordPress other third-party sitemap generator tools can be used that work as efficiently as those mentioned above. XML-SItemaps.com is a great tool that creates an XML formatted file that can be used as a sitemap.
With this platform, it is advised to manually look at it after it has been created to ensure there are no errors. To do so you will search (your site’s name).com/sitemap.xml.
For example, if your site was called barryscakes.com you would search barryscakes.com/sitemap.xml. Here you will find your sitemap where you can check that all pages are listed.
Submitting The Sitemap
Once you are sure your sitemap is correct the next step is to submit your sitemap to search engines, such as Google. As Google is the most popularly used search engine we outline the steps you need to follow to submit your sitemap to Google.
- Firstly, you will need to log in to your Google Search Console account
- Go to Index which you will find in the sidebar
- Find your submitted sitemaps under Submitted Sitemaps and if you haven’t submitted a sitemap previously you will not see this section
- To submit the new sitemap simply enter your sitemap URL into the Add A New Sitemap field and click Submit
- You will eventually see this sitemap listed under Submitted Sitemaps as long as everything is correct within the sitemap and everything is correctly set up
After submitting a sitemap you will be able to access a sitemap report within your Google Search Console, which is a great way to spot any errors on your website.
This will be available after Google has had the opportunity to crawl your website, which will result in a tick with the following message being placed on your sitemap page Sitemap index processed successfully.
On the top right of your sitemap page within the Google Search Console you will see index coverage click on this. This will bring you to the sitemap report where you can see what pages from your website were added to Google’s index.
The hope is that all pages are listed as valid. They could also be listed under excluded, valid with warnings, or error.
To find out why pages were not listed as valid simply click on the category and you will be able to see an error message which will enable you to update the page’s error quickly, preventing a loss of traffic to specific pages on your website.
As mentioned previously having a sitemap is not a requirement but it is hugely beneficial for reaching a wider audience and your website will also seem more reputable the higher it ranks on a SERPs.
With access to tools creating a sitemap has never been easier. Create one today and watch your website begin to attract more traffic.
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