Sitemap may be a common understanding to most SEO specialist, however some of us may be exploring the needs and importance of sitemap. Thus, this article will explain the purpose of a sitemap and how it could affect your SEO.
A sitemap helps to store information about pages, videos, and files on your site. In short, it is like a blueprint for your website to aid SEO crawlers to better understand your site. Search engines like Google read sitemaps to understand the relationship within all the pages to crawl your website intelligently. A sitemap helps to categorize the importance of different pages such as latest updated information, language or even schema markup information to aid robots to better rank your webpages.
A sitemap helps to provide crucial information about specific types of content for example video running time, category, age, subject matter, type and licenses to provide context.
Do I Need a Sitemap?
A sitemap is critical in a website be it a SME or MNC because search engines such as Google or Bing are committed to display most relevant result to searchers for any search query. In order for search engines to understand your content effectively, a sitemap will be key to help identify the files.
How to create a sitemap?
Always start from a homepage and further classify what are the pages related to homepage. Figure out which are cornerstone pages, and which are subpages that support your main cornerstone. According to Search Engine Journal, you should create a sitemap that requires 3 clicks to navigate to specific pages on your site which can aid in improving SEO. If this is something that you face difficulty with, contact us here and our team of experts will assist you, alternatively, there are plenty of WordPress plugins such as Yoast which you can use.
Set your URL pages
After segregating these pages based on your hierarchy chart, you will need to code your website to enable search engine crawlers to understand your site. The easiest way is to format each URL with XML tags. This might be challenging for non-HTML coders, but for those who are familiar with HTML coding, you might want to add xml tags into your website.
Example of XML sitemap you may begin with:
<!–?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?–>
Add on corresponding areas that you would want robots to understand and crawl such as location, last changed, changed frequency, priority and many more.
Validate your sitemap
Upon completion of sitemap creation, you should validate this information before submitting to Google web console (previously known as google webmaster). You do not want go live with any mistakes in coding as that will delay and waste precious time and resources.
As such there are tools that you can utilize to help pick out errors in your coding are available on the internet. A commonly used tool would be XML sitemap validator which will help point out mistakes and error in your code.
Submit your sitemap
Once you are done with all above mentioned steps, you are ready to have your sitemap uploaded for Google to crawl. To do this, you would need a search console to have this file uploaded and ready to be crawl by search engines. This will help bring your SEO strategy to the next level and there is no reason to be intimidated by this anymore with available plugins and steps to assist you in creating a sitemap.