How to use XML sitemaps to Boost SEO?

How to use XML sitemaps to Boost SEO?

The SEO concerns are aptly valid as this much-hyped celebrity is the sole and reliable tool for getting one’s hand on the enduring and organic growth of the website. However, countless factors affect SEO, such as loading speed, site responsiveness, duplicate pages, user experience, etc. There are plenty of queries that focus on the sitemap. Common ones go like, “what is sitemap in SEO,” “why sitemap is important for SEO,” and more.

What is a sitemap in SEO & its purpose?

To put it in layman’s terms, a sitemap is an XML file that enlists all the website URLs. You can consider it a virtual map for search engine spiders who use it to crawl and index your website. Every sitemap has its URL, which one can place at any place on the site’s host server.

A sitemap is utilized to allow the search engines bots to come after your web pages’ links not to miss or skip anything. Often, we want to prevent the users from visiting certain site pages, or some pages are omitted. This results in the inability of search engine spiders to crawl those pages, and thus, they are not indexed as well. By enumerating even those pages in an XML sitemap, you can get them crawled by search engine bots and still not display them to the users.

This digital roadmap intends to assist web bots in dispensing their role of crawling and indexing the site. The map records the pages on a website, the routine of updating the pages, and the relative significance.

Are sitemaps necessary? How do the sitemaps help with SEO?

Well, not necessarily! The absence of a sitemap won’t resist the little amount of traffic your site will receive. If your website comprises a single web page, it makes no sense to generate and submit a sitemap, so your URLs could get detected by the crawlers. Rather, your focus, in this case, should be to link the page from social media and other websites. Further, registering the domain with the Google Search Console is another aspect to consider, which provides free service to optimize website visibility.

Commonly people ask, “is sitemap necessary for SEO,” “do sitemaps help SEO,” “do I need a sitemap for SEO,” and so forth. Submitting a sitemap is always recommended from an SEO point of view. Particularly if the website is huge, comprising many pages and high media content, the sitemap is instrumental as it supports search engine bots to navigate, crawl, and index the site.

As you know, SEO involves the implementation of different strategies to rank better in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). These techniques include keyword research and optimization, link building, content marketing, site structure optimization, and more. A sitemap may inform the search engine on the pages that hold importance on your site and thus, need to be crawled and indexed. Still, you are supposed to curate SEO-optimized content. Among other SEO best practices, sitemap submission is just one helpful measure that one should embrace.

Search engine crawlers may skip or miss some web pages without a sitemap, which wouldn’t be indexed further. To rank a page, crawling is the primary step. Therefore, generating and submitting a sitemap is better to avoid trotting the precipice. Since website XML sitemap does impact crawling, if the sitemap is erroneous, it may incite crawl errors, which you need to backtrack through Google Search Console every week. The higher the number of crawl errors, the more your site will be marked for broken links and lacking content. When a site has too many missing pages and broken links, Google would no longer index your site, and thus, it would be absurd to think of getting ranked in the SERPs while the issue persists.

In the case of a dynamic XML sitemap, you don’t have to bother about updating it; however, giving it a once-over and rectifying crawl errors in Google Search Console should be done at least every week. However, for a small website, you can establish a sitemap manually, and whenever you further add a web page, it needs to be updated.

You won’t have to rack up your brain thinking, “do I need SEO?“.

What are the types of sitemaps?

XML and HTML are two types of sitemap, which are no sophisticated thing to do. With certain XML sitemap tools, one can easily generate an XML sitemap, which informs the search about the pages to be indexed. You can also save your precious moments by employing XML sitemap Generators to create a sitemap.

The process takes steps as simple as entering the URL in xmlsitemaps.com, which generates a free sitemap for smaller sites. Rather than taking the hassle of adding URLs manually and then handling each page, you should consider a dynamic XML sitemap, which updates on its own every time you add or remove the page from a site. On the other hand, HTML sitemaps intend to facilitate site navigation for the users.

XML sitemaps, however, can hold up to 50,000 URLs and no more, while the size of its uncompressed file is limited to 50MB. You can compress sitemap files through gzip to spare your server some bandwidth. However, as soon as you unzip the file, it is impossible to surpass any sitemap limit. However, you will have to diverge the URLs in several XML sitemaps whenever you do so.

There is an option of generating sitemap index files for huge websites. For instance:

  1. sitemap-index-category1XML
  2. sitemap-index-products-surveys.xml
  3. sitemap-index-blogs.xml

However, you should remain cautious that it is impossible to nest your sitemap Index Files. Now, to facilitate search engines to locate your sitemap files, you need to:

  1. Submit sitemap index on Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console.
  2. Designate sitemap index URL in the robots.txt file to beckon the search engines towards your sitemap to crawl the site.

Dynamic XML Sitemap

Although static sitemaps are easy to generate, they get outdated instantly as you add or remove a web page. If you alter the page content, the lastmod tag won’t be updated by the sitemap. While creating and managing sitemaps manually, you will have to etch every change to your page or site. Furthermore, the server automatically updates the dynamic XML sitemaps to include pertinent changes in the site as soon as they happen. The dynamic XML sitemap is created as follows:

  1. Requesting the developer to produce a custom script, make sure you convey all your specifications.
  2. Employ a dynamic sitemap generator tool.
  3. Download and run a plugin for your Content Management System.

This type of sitemap is generated afresh and updated whenever it is asked.

XML Image Sitemap

XML image sitemaps were curated to enhance image content indexation on the site. Since images are nested within the page’s content today, they are automatic with the URL of the web page. An XML sitemap is not needed for the sites except those whose business is driven by images.

XML Video Sitemap

Video sitemap, like image sitemap, is necessary only if videos are a critical part of your digital business; otherwise, it is not required.

Mobile Sitemap

Mobile sitemaps are exclusively helpful for featured phone pages, and they are not compatible with smartphones. A mobile sitemap will do no good if your site involves unique URLs primarily created for featured mobile devices.

Google News Sitemap

This sitemap is necessary for sites that have registered with Google News. If you are registered with the platform, you need to enumerate up to 1000 URLs in each sitemap and update it with the new articles once they are made public.

How to create a Sitemap?

Creating a sitemap is no tough row to hoe. You can download and integrate the Google XML sitemaps plugin if you are a WordPress user to ease the job. By generating an XML sitemap with this tool, you will only have to activate it. Once the sitemap is ready, it would be accessible at a URL that somewhat looks like:

https://YoursiteURL/sitemap.xml

For non-WordPress users, several other tools are available to help you effortlessly create a sitemap. You will find an ultimate stepwise guide for generating and implementing the sitemap on your site.

What does an XML Sitemap file contain?

An XML sitemap includes the following:

  • The location of a particular web page i.e., its URL: <loc>http://www.sitemaps.com/mywebpage</loc>
  • The recent date when the page was updated: <lastmod>2022-02-03</lastmod>
  • How frequently the page is updated: <changefreq> weekly</changefreq>
  • What is the relative significance of page: <priority></priority>

What should you include in a sitemap?

You wouldn’t want to get all your pages mentioned in the sitemap. Adding all of them would result in squandering your crawling budget as even the low-value pages would be crawled. In contrast, premium quality pages may remain uncrawled and unindexed, as search engines lack resources to crawl those pages. This is why one must ascertain that only pages with top-notch quality content are included in indexable pages.

The pages to be enlisted in a sitemap should:

  1. Reply with a 200 code.
  2. Be the canonical form of a page.
  3. Not be obstructed by robots.txt files.
  4. Avoid comprising a no-index meta robots tag.

This comprehensive guide answers common questions around sitemap and its correlation to SEO, such as, “is sitemap important for SEO,” “how to use XML sitemaps to boost SEO,” etc.

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iCEA Group
Category: SEO
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