An XML Sitemap is not used by every online business; but it could be the missing step you need to elevate your SEO.
If done right, providing Google with an XML sitemap will aid the crawling process and make ranking your website more efficient.
A sitemap is a file that helps Google crawl your site and find your most important pages. It can be thought of as a map of your site for Google; allowing Google to more easily find what it is crawling for.
XML Sitemap is not considered necessary for all websites; but we value it as a pretty crucial step in your SEO. By providing Google with an XML Sitemap, you can direct crawlers to your most essential pages faster.
This helps Google access your content quicker and with more ease of access, which can aid your SEO in terms of ranking process.
XML = ‘Extensible Markup Language’ Sitemap.
Put simply, an XML sitemap is a list of your website’s URLs. It is called a ‘map,’ for this reason – it maps out the structure of your site and lists your site pages.
If you create and submit this file for Google, you can directly give search engine crawlers information about your site, making the crawling process easier, faster and more efficient.
You’ll also have more control over which pages of your site are deemed most important. Your XML sitemap can be used to show Google the pages you want prioritized most.
You can also use XML sitemap to provide info about your pages, such as if it’s available in another language and any page updates.
Search engine bots are designed to crawl your site and assess your content – but there’s a lot of other content out there that they are constantly crawling as well.
You should use your sitemap to tell Google any important info about your pages, such as if it is available in another language, and when it was last updated.
This makes the crawling process more efficient for your website. Your XML sitemap should be used to detail:
Your XML sitemap will also list all URLs on your site. Less popular pages are sometimes not easily found by search engine crawlers; so this makes sure all pages on your site will be crawled and ranked.
Use your XML Sitemap to direct Google to the highest quality pages on your site.
This should be aimed at showing search engine crawlers the best kind of quality your site offers, which aids crawlers in assessing your site as one of high worth.
You can use tags to show Google and other search engines which pages you consider to be more important.
These priority tags will help crawler bots to prioritize which pages to focus on first.
Using these tags in your XML sitemap therefore gives you more control and direction over how Google and other search engines crawl your website and site pages.
An XML sitemap is especially important for pages that are updated regularly. You want Google to recognise these changes and crawl these pages (with the aim of rewarding your new content with higher rankings).
Providing update details in your sitemap shows Google these pages have been changed, directing search engine bots to these pages with higher priority.
For pages that have been modified and/or are changed frequently:
Note, that you should only update modification times when the page has been changed significantly, providing new content that is of value and worth being crawled again.
Overusing this could be flagged by Google and be detrimental to your site ranking.
Sitemaps will show Google more clearly the content of your page, helping it to assess the subject matter of your video, image and news content.
This will help crawlers place you for rankings in Google image, video and news search results.
You should use sitemaps to show Google the following content type details:
Image sitemaps: These should specify the content of the image, such as subject, image type and licensing. Providing image sitemaps will help the image rank in Google image results.
Video sitemaps: These will detail the time of the video, as well as the category and age ranking. Providing these details will help with rankings in Google video results and rich snippets.
News sitemaps: Sitemaps for news items should detail the title and publishing date. This aids in indexing for Google’s news section search results.
Providing Google with an XML sitemap makes their crawling process easier, as search engine bots can better understand the structure of your website.
When search engine bots can more easily understand your site, they have a better time assessing how to rank your web pages.
You’ll also gain some control over the crawl process, directing crawlers to pages that are most important, have changed recently, or are frequently updated. These are the pages that are most important for your site to be ranked highly upon.
You’ll also be able to improve rankings in Google’s image, video and news search results by providing them with info on your content type through sitemaps.
You’ll receive feedback from Google regarding the status of your sitemap, including any errors that might have occurred before Google can crawl your site or certain URLs.
Sitemaps report will show you any problems Google has come across when analyzing your sitemap submission.
Google’s report will show you the status of your sitemap, whether that is:
Note that you won’t need to resubmit a sitemap, even if you have updated it or fixed any errors Google has noted. These changes will be picked up once your site is crawled again.
Using this Sitemap feedback ensures you can optimize your site to be crawled by Google, without any problems. You’ll be able to fix any errors Google finds – issues you may have missed if it weren’t for your sitemap submission.
We’ve identified why you should submit a sitemap to Google; now let’s see how.
Google provides a pretty easy to follow guide in Search Console Help on how to submit your sitemap to Google.
You’ll first need to check you meet their listed prerequisites; making sure you have owner permissions. Otherwise, you can use your robots.txt file.
Google has a limit of 1,000 submitted sitemaps that can be shown in Sitemaps Report.
Next, post the sitemap on your website using one of Google’s accepted forms and following their guidelines. You’ll need to check that Googlebot can access your sitemap by viewing it in incognito mode.
Finally, open your Sitemap Report, enter your sitemap URL and press ‘Submit.’
Google will begin processing your sitemap straight away, but it can take longer to crawl all URLs included in your sitemap.
Make sure to check your Sitemap Report for any errors that could be blocking certain URLs from being crawled.
For people with little to no coding knowledge, we understand creating an XML sitemap could seem daunting.
Our team of web and digital marketing experts are happy to help, whether that’s offering some advice or assisting you in creating your XML sitemap.
For more info on how to easily boost your website’s SEO, check out our latest SEO checklist – there may be a step or two you’ve missed.