Last Updated on July 22, 2023
Don’t have a Sitemap? Here’s why you really want one.
Bridget Willard and I answer a lot of technical questions posed by our clients and students. The answers to these are often found in one of our three Online Marketing books. But who has the time to find your copy, right? Sometimes you just want one answer. Okay! This question and answer post is all about your website’s sitemaps. Both of them to be precise!
A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to crawl your site more efficiently. A sitemap tells Google which pages and files you think are important in your site, and also provides valuable information about these files. For example, when the page was last updated and any alternate language versions of the page.Google. developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/sitemaps/overview
What is the Purpose of a Sitemap?
A sitemap is first of all a file with a page overview that lists all pages of an Internet presence hierarchically and thus also takes the subpages into account. There are two types of sitemaps. One for your visitors to use on your website like this: https://warrenlainenaida.net/sitemap/ One for Google & Co. to use in indexing your website like this: https://warrenlainenaida.net/sitemap.xml
Do Sitemaps Help SEO?
A sitemap helps people find pages on our website that may not appear in the menu. It helps Google & Co quickly view and index the pages of our website in their catalogues. A sitemap is also very important for our search engine optimisation (SEO). It’s a map of your website. Think about trying to find anything without some sort of map.
Read more about SEO here: https://warrenlainenaida.net/tag/seo/
How to Use XML Sitemaps to Boost SEO
Are Sitemaps Still Relevant?
If you have a website you want to be found by people searching for the content you offer on your site, you need a sitemap. If you don’t want people to find your website, you do not need a sitemap.
How do I Create a Sitemap?
Creating a Sitemap page on your website
You can create a sitemap for your users (one that appears on a page in your website) with a sitemap plugin on your WordPress website. Other CMS also have these plugins. https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-sitemap-page
You can also create an HTML sitemap for your users with simple HTML code.
Creating a sitemap.xml file for the crawlers
You can create a sitemap.xml file for Google & Co in many ways:
- You can make one using XML.
- You can use WordPress which includes a sitemap.xml out of the box.
- You can use a plugin like Yoast which will generate a sitemap.xml for you automatically. https://kinsta.com/blog/best-seo-plugins-for-wordpress/
What do I do with my sitemap.xml? What do I do with my Visitor Sitemap?
It is important that you submit your sitemap to Google. You can do this manually if you have a hand-crafted XML file. https://developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/sitemaps/build-sitemap
If you are using an SEO plugin, you do not need to submit because the plugin will ping Google that your content exists.
Do I need to upload my sitemap to Google each time I update my content?
If you use a plugin, like Yoast, the plugin will ping Google when it is installed, and each time you significantly update your content.
You never need to worry about informing Google that you have new content.
How to submit your website to search engines get indexed faster
- Use Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Submit to Google Search Console first. After your account is set up and your sitemap accepted by Google, go over to Bing. By logging in with your Google account, Bing will connect with and import your Google Search Console sitemap. Easy!
- You should check weekly, or at least once a month to see if all pages you want indexed have been. If not, you can manually submit pages to Google and Bing.
Google Search Console
This process takes about 5 minutes. The Search Console gives you information about what pages and search terms are active in Google when people search. It is not Analytics, but it is closely related. You do not need a cookie declaration either!
XML Sitemaps: The Most Misunderstood Tool in the SEO’s Toolbox
Sitemap Professional Tip!
If you want to spend more time on your sitemap.xml, and get deep into the realm of SEO and content marketing, then you can take it one step further. Think about your sitemap.xml from Google’s perspective. You are submitting a list of all the pages on your website. Are they ALL important? Are they ALL to be featured and recorded by Google? Probably not. If all your pages are important, then perhaps none are important.
Many professional SEO advocates will tell you that you should only submit to Google the sitemap of your Cornerstone, Key, Important pages. Those pages you want to tell Google are WORTH Indexing. Think about it.
THAT’S IT! Congratulations! You Know all You Need About Website Sitemaps!
I’m looking forward to seeing you in my next TechTalk post when Bridget and I talk about how you can easily optimize your website for Google Core Web Vitals!
What are Google Core Web Vitals? https://warrenlainenaida.net/champstalk-twitter-chat-session-topic-lets-talk-about-google-core-web-vitals/
With thanks for the image to Daniel Gonzalez https://unsplash.com/@overlyawesome