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2 min read Importance of having a sitemap for SEO

The importance of having a sitemap

Key Takeaways

  • A sitemap is essential for on-site SEO, helping visitors and search engine bots navigate and crawl your site.
  • Sitemaps are crucial for new websites that Google hasn’t yet indexed.
  • Sitemaps ensure large websites with unfinished internal linking can still be crawled. Plus, they provide search engines with extra information about your site, its purpose, and its function.

Hav­ing a sitemap is one of the on-site SEO rank­ing fac­tors. Sitemaps help vis­i­tors to eas­i­er nav­i­gate your site and search engine bots to improve crawling.

What is a sitemap

A sitemap is a map of your site that con­tains links to all your con­tent; pages, posts, images, port­fo­lio entries, etc. You can use a sin­gle sitemap to dis­play links to every URL on your web­site, or if your web­site is very big, you can use mul­ti­ple sitemaps, one for each type of content.

For search engines, a sitemap is the URL inclu­sion pro­to­col, unlike robots.txt file which is the URL exclu­sion pro­to­col. Sitemaps inform search engines which page to crawl while robots.txt advis­es what not to crawl.

There are two for­mats of sitemaps; one is an HTML sitemap and the oth­er is an XML sitemap. HTML sitemaps are pri­mar­i­ly intend­ed as a guide, for eas­i­er nav­i­ga­tion for human vis­i­tors, while XML sitemaps are intend­ed exclu­sive­ly for search engines.

Do you need a sitemap

Google rec­om­mends sub­mit­ting a sitemap for all web­sites that meet any of the fol­low­ing criteria:

  1. A new web­site which does­n’t have back­links from author­i­ty sites.
    Search engine bots fol­low links on indexed con­tent to dis­cov­er new con­tent. If your web­site is new and does­n’t have exter­nal links, you need to sub­mit an XML sitemap to your Google Search Con­sole account. Oth­er­wise, it can take weeks or even months before search engine bots index all your posts and pages.
  2. A very large web­site or most of the pages are not interlinked
    Some­times, on very large sites, crawlers can miss some of the new con­tent. It can hap­pen on small­er sites, as well, espe­cial­ly if inter­nal link build­ing is not done thoroughly.
  3. You are using rich media content.
    A sitemap can help pro­vid­ing search engines with addi­tion­al meta­da­ta. For exam­ple, the video run­ning time or the image type and category.

Even if your web­site does­n’t belong to any of the above cat­e­gories, hav­ing a sitemap is still desir­able since it has sev­er­al ben­e­fits and can­not hurt you in any way.

Benefits of having a sitemap

A sitemap has always been a part of best web design prac­tices but ever since Google has adopt­ed sitemaps to enhance web crawl­ing, hav­ing a sitemap has become immense­ly impor­tant. Here are some of the ben­e­fits of sitemaps:

  • eas­i­er nav­i­ga­tion for human vis­i­tors, as well as web crawlers
  • eas­i­er con­tent clas­si­fy­ing by search engines
  • bet­ter vis­i­bil­i­ty for search engines
  • faster index­ing of changed and new content

How to create a sitemap

Cre­at­ing sitemaps is very easy. You don’t need to do any­thing man­u­al­ly, but sim­ply sub­mit your web­site’s address to an online sitemap gen­er­a­tor and upload the gen­er­at­ed file to your web­site. You can use the Web­site SEO Check­er GTML Sitemap Gen­er­a­tor for gen­er­at­ing HTML sitemaps, and the Free XML sitemap gen­er­a­tor for gen­er­at­ing XML sitemaps.

There is also an eas­i­er way to cre­ate sitemaps, using a plu­g­in. We would rec­om­mend a sim­ple plu­g­in WP Sitemap Page for cre­at­ing user-friend­ly, HTML sitemaps, and SEO Yoast plu­g­in to gen­er­ate XML sitemaps. The advan­tage of cre­at­ing sitemaps with a plu­g­in is they will always be up to date.

Where to place a sitemap

Sitemaps have to be locat­ed in the root domain direc­to­ry. After plac­ing the links, you need to sub­mit XML sitemaps to your Google Search Con­sole account, and oth­er Web­mas­ter Tools, if you are using any.

For HTML sitemap, it’s a com­mon prac­tice to place the link in the foot­er, next to oth­er impor­tant infor­ma­tion­al links, such as the Pri­va­cy Pol­i­cy and Terms of Use page.

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