When you create a website, the first requirement for it to appear on Google SERP is to get crawled and indexed by Google.
That is where a Sitemap comes in.
Table of Contents
What is Sitemap?
A sitemap is a list of all the pages on a website.
They are a “map” to your website and it helps the Google Website Crawlers to determine the paths to different pages of your website.
See the image below: This is a Sample of Sitemap
When Google will Crawl this website, this sitemap will tell google,
- There is a Home page – DML.com
- Then there are 4 Major Categories
- There are Pages under each category
Why Does one need a Sitemap?
Creating and submitting sitemaps have SEO benefits for a website. These include :
Get your Website indexed faster.
Since the crawlers have a list of the important pages on a website, they can easily crawl and index these pages.
Better Indexing of webpages
Submitting sitemaps gives the crawler access to all the pages on a website, even the ones that are buried deep and might have not been crawled earlier.
Once the web pages are indexed, the chances of them getting ranked for keywords increase.
If you have a relatively small website with a limited number of pages and your pages are properly linked the Google site crawlers will discover your content.
However, If your website is new, keeps updating regulatory, is fairly large, and is not properly linked, a sitemap will help Google to crawl your website.
There are two different types of sitemaps based on their functionality:
- HTML Sitemaps
- XML Sitemaps
HTML Site maps
An HTML sitemap is a webpage page on which all pages of a website are mentioned.
This type of sitemap is made for and used by users of a website to help them navigate the site better. It plays into the UI/UX of a website.
For example, this is an HTML sitemap for Apple’s website.
XML sitemaps are written in XML language and made specifically for website crawlers to help them navigate the website and index the pages.
Types of XML sitemaps
Image Sitemaps are XML sitemaps for images on a website. Having sitemaps for images helps images to get featured on the Google Image search.
You can add the sitemaps for images in an existing sitemap so you can create a separate one.
In am image sitemap,
Mandatory tags are : <image:image> and <image:loc> tags
Optional tags are : <image:caption>, <image:title>, <image:title> and <image: geo_location >
Before creating an image map make sure you are following the SEO guide lies for images like adding alt text and metadata for these images.
Like Image sitemaps, Video sitemaps are the files that contain the list of videos that you have uploaded on your website.
They help your videos to get featured on the Google SERP.
Video Sitemaps contain the metadata about the videos and help the crawlers to understand the content of your videos.
Mandatory Tags of Video Sitemaps are : <url>, <loc>, <video:video>, <video:thumbnail_loc>, <video:title>, <video:description>, <video:content_loc> and <video:player_loc>
Being Nontechy, please do not be worried – Creating Sitemaps is very easy.
Free Sitemaps generator – How to Create Sitemaps
There are 3 ways you can create Sitemaps for Free
1. Use a 3rd party Free Sitemap generator
This is the easiest way to create Sitemaps within minutes by using an XML sitemap generator
You simply have to add your website URL here and the tool will generate the XML sitemap file for you.
2. Use your CMS to generate Sitemap
3. Create Sitemaps Manually
If you have a small website with limited pages, you can manually create a sitemap.
However, this method is not recommended as it is a tedious process and requires basic coding and programming knowledge.
Once the Sitemap file is created it has to be added to the root file and robots.txt file of your website.
If you are using WordPress plugins like Rankmath, then this will be done automatically for you.
Otherwise, you need assistance for a developer to do this.
You can get this done from Fiver or Upwork
How to Submit Sitemap to Google? ( Using Google Search Console)
To submit your sitemap to Google, follow these steps:
Step 1: Create a Google Search Console account/ Login to the Existing account
If you already have signed up on the Google search console, then log in to your account.
Otherwise, sign up through your Google Account by clicking on Start Now.
You will need an existing Google account to use the Google search console.
Step 2 : Select/ add property
Next, you have to add a property to the Console, if you haven’t already.
Once you have added the property you need to select the property type
Click here to Learn – How to add and set up a property on Google Console
Step 3: Go to sitemaps & Submit URL
Once inside the property, select Sitemaps from the Left-hand side column.
Enter your Sitemap URL & Click on Submit.
After you have successfully submitted the URL, you will have a Success message along with a Count of Discovered URLs
DML Tip: Google Search Console is a tool made for webmasters that helps website owners to manage and optimize their websites for Search Engine Optimization.
Sitemaps Best Practices – the Dos and Donts
Don’t include the “Non-Indexed” URL
Non-indexed webpages are pages on your website that you don’t want to appear on Google SERP.
If you are creating sitemaps manually, don’t include these pages in your sitemap.
Alternatively, add a no-index tag to your robots.txt file. This ensures that your crawl budget is not squandered.
Place HTML sitemap in your Website footer
As we already know, an HTML sitemap improves the UI/UX of a website. So make sure you create an HTML site of your website and display it. The best place to do this is in your Website footer.
Structure your website content properly
The structure of your website is critical to your SEO strategy. The structure of your website informs Google about the most significant pages on your site. This implies you may influence which content ranks higher in search engines by changing the structure of your website.
Also, categorize your website content with different topics and tags to help crawlers to understand your content structure.
Regularly Re-submit your sitemaps
You should re-submit your sitemap or add another sitemap when you change the structure of your website, change or just update your content or type of content or have some new content to show.
Before we end this, understand that creating and submitting a sitemap for your website will not improve the actual ranking of your website.
It will simply make sure that your website is visible on SERP by making the crawling process fast and efficient.
Also, read- How to start a successful Blog