It has been recommended for years for site owners and web administrators to create XML sitemaps for their websites in order to improve the chances that their sites will be crawled and indexed by search engines. But what does this mean? And when should you start creating one? Below we would like to talk about important information about XML sitemap for SEO, including what they are, how they work, and more.
What is an XML sitemap For SEO?
An XML sitemap is a collection of all the pages on your website. It tells search engines which pages your site has and what they contain. Importantly, it also describes the content of those pages so that it’s easy to find information relevant to the topic you’re trying to rank for.
There are a few different kinds of an XML sitemap. The most common is the full sitemap, which contains all the pages on that website. You can then submit any of them to search engines to help them improve their search rankings, build discovery and relevance to make better recommendations for you as a client. The other kind is the partial sitemap, which only contains the pages that you’ve tagged explicitly for your sitemap.
What Does a Sitemap Do?
Building an XML sitemap is a great way to provide search engines with enough information to understand the structure of your site and how it should be searched and indexed. Google maintains its XML sitemap index, which they use to determine how its crawler works. The extra information included in an XML sitemap will also help the search engines identify critical terms on the pages you’ve tagged so that they can provide better results.
Types of Sitemaps
There are two types of XML sitemap. One is the full sitemap, which contains all of the pages available on that domain and includes information about the following:
- Title – The text of each page. This helps Google understand your site structure and provide relevant search results and recommendations.
- Description – Any meta tags, keywords, or image alt attributes pertain to each page.
- Last Modified Time – When your webmaster uploaded the last modified changes for each page. This helps search engines determine how often your site has been updated.
- URL – The specific web address of each page on your site.
- Author – Person or company who uploaded the page.
- Robots – Tags and keywords used to index each page. Combined with the title and description, these enable search engines to understand the content on your page. Because of this, they can then provide relevant search results for your site.
Do I Need a Full Sitemap?
A complete sitemap is essential only if you have many pages on your website, maybe over 100. The other type is the partial sitemap, which contains only the pages you’ve tagged explicitly for your sitemap. Partial sitemaps are limited to individual pages but contain all the information about each page as described above.
Xml Sitemap Format
XML sitemaps are pretty easy to create. Create an index file and list all of the pages on your site in chronological order. Use three hyphens at the beginning of each line to indicate a new entry, then include the required information in between open and close index tags, like so:
- Each page should be listed in order of its importance, with the most crucial page listed first. You can also use this format to submit partial sitemaps for individual pages.
- Or create the sitemap using an online tool if you don’t have Microsoft Word. You can also use any plain text editor and save it as a .sitemap file.
- Once you’ve created the XML sitemap, you can submit it to Google for consideration in their search index. As mentioned above, they maintain their index of these files, and they will pick up any new ones as they’re submitted.
How to Create an XML Sitemap?
While you can use a simple text editor to create your XML sitemap, it’s better to use programs designed for this purpose. A good XML sitemap should be easy to view by everyone on your site but shouldn’t be too large or overwhelming. This helps search engines determine how frequently your site is updated and improves the search results. While many applications are available, WordPress is one of the easiest ways to create an XML sitemap.
The best way to create an XML sitemap is to use your site’s primary administration tool. It’s also a good idea to create a backup of your site and keep it in a safe place, just in case you want to recover it if something goes wrong. Ultimately, the great thing about using XML sitemaps is that they can improve the search results for your website (and your future clients!), which is why many businesses are making them part of their SEO strategy.