When it comes to building and maintaining your website, Search Engine Optimization is always considered a major part of the process. SEO involves too many things to prioritize in order to gain higher search engine rankings but in the rush to research keywords, acquire necessary backlinks, and write those thrilling meta descriptions, there is one important web SEO tool that gets ignored quite frequently and these are the sitemaps.
A sitemap is a relatively simple addition to your website but can have a big impact in terms of how easily search engines identify and rank your web pages. But as we all are not aware about what a sitemap is and why is it so important? One more query that adds up to this is that does your website need one, and if so how do you make and submit a sitemap?
What is a Sitemap?
Sitemap is a map that is specifically designed to acknowledge the attention of the search engines such as Google and Bing directly to your website’s most important pages, including videos and files. A sitemap also makes it easier for search engines to crawl into your website, usually identifying which pages are there, and what is the relationship between them. And the easier you will make sitemaps for search engines to locate and understand your website structure, the better are the chances of your content ranking higher and quickly.
Types of Sitemap
There are mainly four different types of sitemap:
- XML sitemap: It is the most common variety. It is the type of sitemap that is used at Website Builder Expert.
- News sitemap: It helps search engines to parse and understand news content on your website. This type of sitemap also helps Google identify topical content that’s been approved for Google News and then displays it in the most relevant part of its search results.
- Video sitemap: It helps search engines understand your website’s video content.
- Image sitemap: It assists Google in detecting the images hosted on your website.
- HTML Sitemaps: They are mainly the formatted links usually located at the bottom of a website. They are accessible via header and footer navigation.
Importance of Sitemap in SEO
It doesn’t matter whether the goal of your business website is to entertain, inform or educate, this wouldn’t be possible if any of the services can be found online. And, if Google and other search engines fail to locate and make sense of said pages while ranking your site, then your work will just rank poorly, even worse, it won’t rank at all. This is why implementing strong internal linking throughout your website is always the best way of communicating the relationship between your pages and Google. This means that every page on your website should be reachable from at least one another page with the help of a link. This forms a kind of way between your website’s content and that is how Google locates and understands it as a whole.
Use Your Sitemap to Find Problems With Indexing
One of the coolest thing about using a sitemap is that it can give you an accurate precision of:
- How many pages do you want to index?
- How many pages are going to be indexed?
For example, let’s take your sitemap links to approximately 5,000 pages. But when you will have a keen look at the Google Search Console, your website will only have 2,000 pages indexed. This is a sign that something went wrong. There are possibilities that a lot of duplicate content in those 5,000 pages have been involved and this is why Google is not indexing all of them. Or one of the reasons could be that the number of pages on your website exceeded your crawling budget.
How Do Sitemaps Help With SEO?
This kind of comprehensive internal linking isn’t always practical and it is particularly the case if you have a larger website with thousands of unique pages or if you lack the necessary SEO resource to make sure the quality and relevance of your internal linking processes. At the other end of the scale, your website might be new. Without inbound links from external sites, Google may struggle to crawl and pick up your website to display in search results.
Even if your website doesn’t fall into either of the above, a sitemap is still important. Aside from the clear SEO benefits that it provides, sitemaps are also useful in practice as ways for you or your content creators to keep monitoring about what you are publishing and as a central point of reference for all the articles or posts on your website. It is also regarded as an SEO friendly sitemap.
Still, according to a survey by White Label SEO Lab, many individuals find sitemaps to be an unnecessary task but with the information and benefits involved some of them have switched towards a sitemap and thoroughly consider it to be a necessity for their website. Having a sitemap that is created considering your particular business goal could be the driving force to a website’s successful journey.
I am 10-year experienced digital marketing expert with experience of managing Local SEO, PPC, and Social media accounts.