Just as it can be difficult for you to find way undirected without a map, it can be no less easy for Google to find all the pages on your site without a sitemap. Fortunately, you can quickly and easily create an XML sitemap, submit it to Google, and have all the new webpage indexed. But how to do this in the right way? And what mistakes should you avoid?
What Is the Purpose of a Sitemap?
A sitemap allows you to reduce the number of transitions when searching for the desired page on any website. A well-tuned sitemap can increase the indexing of website pages. Of course, search engines are able to crawl all site addresses on their own, but creating a sitemap will help them know how to do it best.
A well-built sitemap allows you to:
- Find new pages on the resource and index them;
- Prioritize key pages;
- Track recent changes on indexed pages;
- Remember the refresh rate of indexed pages.
The main task of a sitemap is to help robots find all pages on the site and add them to the search index. At the same time, sitemap specs indicate additional recommendations to robots, for example, to visit certain pages of the site more or less often.
So, Is Sitemap Necessary?
Of course, a sitemap is necessary; nevertheless, many sites can properly function without it. However, if you want your online resource to be ranked high, then we recommend creating a sitemap even for the smallest projects.
If the pages of the file are correctly linked to each other, search robots can find most of the content. However, using a Sitemap file can optimize site crawling, especially in the following cases:
- The site size is very large. Google crawlers can skip recently created or modified pages.
- The site contains a large archive of pages that are not related to each other. To be crawled successfully, they can be listed in the Sitemap file.
- Your site is newly created, and there are few links pointing to it. Googlebot and other search robots crawl the Internet by following links from one page to another. If few links point to your site, it will be difficult to find them.
- The site uses multimedia content, appears in Google News, or uses other annotations that are compatible with sitemaps. The search engine can obtain additional information from Sitemap files for display in search results.
Types of Sitemaps
There are two types of sitemap:
- XML sitemaps – designed for search robots to collect and process all links – categories, subcategories, individual pages. It is a set of tags containing links to pages and articles.
- HTML sitemap – designed for users. It is a separate page, consisting of links, divided according to categories and subcategories. In rare cases, it is a regular catalog of existing articles if the categories themselves are not practical. You can often navigate to the HTML sitemap from the menu on the main page.
Also, sitemaps can be divided into manually created and generated using online services, plugins, or modules.
How to Create a Sitemap.xml File?
Creating a Sitemap.xml file involves using different methods. So, if you do not know how to create a sitemap and which method to use, feel free to follow any of the below approaches:
- Manual – you can do it yourself through any available editor (for example, Notepad ++). Just set tags and links in a certain order.
- Services – Download the necessary links or enter the site address into the online tool to get an automatically generated sitemap.xml file. Check out this post by SpyFu on 8 Best online sitemap generator tools.
- Plugins/modules – Some site engines (CMS) have built-in plugins to generate sitemaps in one click. Others require an additional installation.
If you exclude from the sitemap pages that do not carry commercial or informational benefits (for example, some search results or technical pages), then the search robot will spend less of its resources on crawling the site. This will positively affect site crawling results and its ranking.
Since site scan resource is limited, it becomes more likely that the robot will bypass the pages you actually need to be crawled and indexed. By creating a sitemap through a plugin, you can immediately exclude certain types of pages from there. They can then be added if necessary.
How Often Should a Sitemap Be Updated?
There is no single standard for the frequency of a sitemap update. It all depends on the frequency of creating new pages of the resource and general site updates. It should be remembered that the data specified in the sitemap is perceived by the search robot as a recommendation. If you set the frequency of updates, for example, once a year, the robot will follow your “advice.”
Common Mistakes in Site Map Creation
The popular majority of webmasters tend to make the same mistakes. For you not to fail, we have collected the most common mistakes in a single list:
- Broken links;
- Incorrect publication or update dates for content.
All the above errors will not have a critical impact on how search engines rank your site. However, their elimination will allow you to ensure that the search robot crawls important pages and doesn’t go to unimportant ones.