What is a Sitemap in SEO? The Importance of Sitemaps
A sitemap is defined as a simple directory or guide that holds information along with other details on web pages that are contained on a website, in addition to the content on these pages. Search engines will do their job in crawling a sitemap to find and identify all information that is applicable to a specific search query that has been performed. The pages within the directory are listed in a logical hierarchical order, where the most relevant pages will be listed at the top, and the least relevant pages will be placed closer to the bottom. You want Google to crawl every important page of your website. But sometimes, pages end up without any internal links pointing to them, making them hard to find.
An XML sitemap lists a website’s important pages, making sure Google can find and crawl them all, also helping it understand your website structure. Not only are sitemaps important for search engines, but they can also be helpful for users looking for a particular page on your website. While sitemaps can benefit both search engines and users, the two prefer different sitemap formats, XML for search engines, and HTML for users.
In simple terms, an XML sitemap is a list of your website’s URLs. It acts as a roadmap to tell search engines what content is available and how to reach it. XML sitemaps are easier for search engines to crawl compared to HTML sitemaps and are often hidden from the user.
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What is a Sitemap for?
A Sitemap is usually used for the purpose of letting the search engine crawlers follow the links to all your individual webpages so that it won’t miss out on anything. Sometimes we leave out URLs or hide them from all visible pages because we don’t exactly want some of the users to go there. As a result, some of these URLs are uncrawlable to search engine spiders. We can still leave those URLs hidden from some users without having to lose out on those pages not being crawled by search engine spiders through including them in an XML Sitemap. Sitemaps are mostly used as a navigation element for search engine crawlers to find the pages on your website. If a page URL is not present in the Sitemap then the page might be found by Google but compared to having them in the Sitemap it may take a longer time. Making sure the search engine spiders get to crawl all the stuff they need to crawl from your website is the exact purpose of a Sitemap.
A sitemap also helps define the structure of your website. A sitemap can divide your site into sections like pages, posts, categories, services, and much more and help define the way links flow from one page to another.
- — Home
- — Services
- — Service A
- — Service B
- — Service C
- — Services
As you can imagine, an HTML sitemap can get immensely complex with larger websites. Larger websites can still benefit from having an HTML sitemap because of the positive effect it can have on the user experience—which is allowing users to search and select a specific page they’re looking for.
Types of Sitemaps
There are four main types of sitemaps:
- Normal XML Sitemap: This by far the most common type of sitemap. It’s usually in the form of an XML sitemap that links to different pages on your website.
- Video Sitemap: Used specifically to help Google understand video content on your page.
- News Sitemap: Helps Google find content on sites that are approved for Google News.
- Image Sitemap: Helps Google find all of the images hosted on your site.
The Importance of Sitemaps
Sitemaps play a big role when it comes to SEO. The search engine will use data from the site map located in a specific place. This is important because there are literally millions of websites to be sifted through and you want to make sure that you are not doing your own website a disservice by forgoing an XML sitemap. Sitemaps are recognized by all of the most popular search engines, enabling one single file to be submitted; and when there are changes made to the website, the file can simply be updated as needed. Apart from helping SEO the XML sitemap:
- tells Google to crawl and index your website.
- tells Google what to crawl on your website.
- tells Google what kind of information is on your website.
- tells Google when your content was updated (which could result in more favorable or “fresh” rankings).
- tells Google how often your content is updated.
- tells Google how important your content is.
- helps your website instantly gain indexation for dynamically-generated pages.
- helps to overcome the limitations of a website with weak internal linking.
- helps to overcome the challenge of not yet having a strong external link profile.
- helps extremely large sites gain better and more organized indexation.
- helps Google crawl your website in a more effective way.
- shows Google all the pages on your website, even if they are deep within the architecture and might not otherwise be crawled as quickly.
How do you create a Sitemap?
A Sitemap is pretty easy to create. For WordPress users, you can download the Google XML Sitemaps plugin to make it easier for you. This plugin helps you generate an XML sitemap without having to do anything but activating it.
After the plugin has generated your Sitemap, you can find the Sitemap at an address like this:
For those who are not using WordPress, you can use this online XML-Sitemaps generator tool. It’s pretty easy and they provide a step-by-step approach for you to implement your own Sitemap on your website. The next step after creating a Sitemap would be to submit them to Google and Bing so that they get indexed.
Hope this information on What is a Sitemap in SEO? and The Importance of Sitemaps in SEO was useful for you. If you need help setting regarding Sitemap or SEO in Nepal in feel free to contact Nevolution Tech.