What is an XML Sitemap? Is it really helpful in SEO?

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. This file is examined by search engines like Google to improve the way they index your website. A sitemap gives useful information about these files and lets Google know which pages and files you believe are crucial to your website. For instance, the date the page was last updated and any language variations.

A sitemap can be used to describe specific types of material on your websites, such as videos, images, and news content.

For example-

  • A sitemap video entry can include information about the length, rating, and age-appropriateness of the video.
  • The location of the images on a page can be listed in an image entry in the sitemap.
  • The article title and the date it was published may be included in a sitemap news entry.

The majority of your website may typically be found by Google if all of its pages are correctly linked. All pages you consider essential must be accessible via some navigation method, such as your website’s menu or links you’ve placed on individual pages, to be properly linked. Nevertheless, a sitemap can facilitate crawling bigger, more intricate websites or nicher files.

A decent XML sitemap functions as a roadmap of your website, directing search engines to all of its key pages. Even if your internal linking isn’t perfect, XML sitemap can help your SEO by enabling Google to identify your key pages quickly. What they are and how they help you rank higher are covered in this piece.

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a file that lists a website’s essential pages so that Google can easily identify and crawl them all. Additionally, it aids in the structure-understanding of search engines. You want Google to index all of your website’s key pages. However, occasionally pages are created without internal links connecting to them, making it difficult to find them. The discovery of content can be sped up with a sitemap. A standardized method of listing posts and pages that is accessible to search engines is an XML sitemap.

It consists of a couple of parts:

  • An XML version declaration: used by search engine crawlers to determine the type of file being read.
  • The URL set: Search engines are informed about the protocol by the URL set.
  • The URL: The page’s URL is listed in the URL field.
  • lastmod: When a page was last edited, it is indicated by the date format.
XML Sitemap Importance
What is an XML Sitemap? Is it really helpful in SEO? 5

XML Sitemap Importance for SEO

To understand the importance of XML Sitemap in SEO think of your website as a house and each page of your site as a room. An XML Sitemap can be compared to a blueprint for your home; if each online page were a room, your XML Sitemap would be the blueprint, making it simple for Google, the internet’s equivalent of a home inspector, to find every room in your house. XML Sitemaps are crucial for SEO because they make it simpler for Google to identify the pages on your site.
It is strongly advised to have an XML Sitemap because it has no drawbacks and can help your SEO.

XML Sitemap importance can not be ignored in the following cases:

  • If You have dynamically generated pages on your website (e.g. some e-commerce sites).
  • Your website is not properly organized or linked (internal links).
  • Your website may have a lot of outdated information and/or be very huge and poorly linked.
XML Sitemap types
What is an XML Sitemap? Is it really helpful in SEO? 6

Types of Sitemaps

There are two types of sitemaps:

  1. HTML sitemap- It mostly guides site visitors.
  2. XML sitemap- To help search engine bots locate the URLs to index.

XML Sitemaps

Information is made machine-readable through XML. Search engines can easily access a list of a site’s URLs thanks to XML sitemaps.

XML sitemaps are merely text files that have been tagged with categories of data. The URL for an XML sitemap is often available to bots at the root of a domain.

A bot initially checks the robots.txt file, which contains a list of directives, including the URLs to crawl or avoid, when it visits a website. The XML sitemap should be mentioned in the robots.txt file so that the bot can be directed to crawl the list of URLs. XML sitemaps adhere to specific markup standards. The XML sitemap is generated automatically after it is built, ideally without human involvement. But keep an eye out for problems because duplicate, obsolete, and erroneous URLs appear surprisingly frequently.

HTML Sitemaps

Unlike XML sitemaps, HTML sitemaps are prepared links that show users what is on a website and are typically found at the bottom of a web page. HTML sitemaps often don’t offer much in the way of SEO.

Today, a lot of HTML sitemaps only repeat the links found in the header or footer. Certain websites still rely on HTML sitemaps for their main navigation.

The crucial pages that are included in the HTML sitemap would otherwise be buried deep within the navigational structure. Individual FAQ pages, assistance pages, holiday or event pages, and articles are a few examples. Having an HTML sitemap does not harm SEO. It’s an additional type of beneficial internal connection. But be careful not to overvalue an HTML sitemap. Include a link to a page in the site’s main navigation if you want it to generate traffic and conversions from natural search results.

Which type of sitemap is the most important for SEO?

XML Sitemaps are important for SEO because they make it easier for Google to find your site’s pages—this is important because Google ranks web PAGES, not just websites.

How to create an XML sitemap?

The automatic method and starting from scratch are the two approaches to producing an XML sitemap. Following are the procedures to create an XML sitemap from scratch:

Step1: Assemble all the URLs for your website

You can obtain a list of URLs for your website in a few different methods. The simplest method is to crawl your entire website with a crawler like Screaming Frog to find all URLs.

If you don’t own a copy of Screaming Frog you can locate your URLs by:

  • Manually scanning your website and gathering every URL.
  • To identify the URLs that Google has in its index, run a site search on Google.
  • To locate URLs, look at the landing page report in Google Analytics.

When collecting URLs for a sitemap, the most crucial consideration is whether you want Google to index that particular page. For instance, you probably want your homepage in the index but not your privacy or terms and conditions page.

Step 2: Coding the URL

It’s time to code the URL in an XML format once you have a list of the URLs you wish to include in your sitemap. You’ll need a text editor like Sublime Text to code the URLs in the correct way.

It’s time to submit your XML sitemap to Google using Search Console now that it has been created.

What is an XML sitemap generator tool?

XML Sitemap generator tools are the various types of tools that help in generating professional-looking XML sitemaps for your website.

You may view the structure of site pages most effectively using sitemap tools that provide a visual representation of the information. This is especially useful when working with clients because it makes the sitemap easier for them to see and comprehend. Another benefit of visual sitemap generator software is that they frequently have drag-and-drop functionality, making them simple to use.

Some examples of XML Sitemap generator tools-

1. Dynomapper

An excellent visual tool for creating interactive sitemaps that you can customize with your brand and color scheme. You may pick from the default, circle, and tree sitemap formats.
Users can interact and provide comments, statistics information, categories, and more in the sitemaps, which display more than simply URLs.

2. Writemaps

Similar to the previously described visual tools, WriteMaps provides a straightforward user interface, color customization, and page content mapping and collection.
To maintain organization and facilitate sharing across internal teams and clients, you can also archive outdated sitemaps. Export your finished work as an XML sitemap or PDF.

Do’s and Don’ts in XML sitemap

Do’s

  • Add only working URLs with 200 status codes, in your XML sitemap
  • Include only canonical versions of URLs in the sitemap
  •  Prefer to keep URLs from the single host in your sitemap.
  • Make your XML sitemap dynamic or automated.
  • Include your XML sitemap URL in the robots.txt file.
  • Submit your XML sitemap to Google search central regularly.
  • The maximum size of your XML sitemap can be 50,000URLs or 50 MB.
  • Leverage a sitemap index file, if you have multiple XML sitemaps for your website.

Don’ts

  • Don’t include broken URLs OR URLs with 4XX status codes.
  • Don’t include URLs that redirect to some other URLs.
  • Non-indexable URLs, Internal, Thank you or confidential pages are not to be added.
  • Internal search result pages should not be included.
  • Don’t include pages that have been blocked in robots.txt.

Conclusion

To put it another way, an XML sitemap is a diagram of your website that aids Googlebot, Google’s crawler, in finding and reading your key pages (with hopes of indexing and ranking them highly). Make sure that any page you want Google to index is included in your XML sitemap for sites that use them.

For more guidance in improving the ranking of your website, get connected with the best SEO company today. For more Such Blogs you can visit the blogs section at Clickites.

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