A sitemap is a map of your website that helps search engines crawl and index your pages. They also make it easier for users to find what they’re looking for on your website. You can create a sitemap using different formats, including XML, Google Sitemaps, and HTML Sitemaps. Anyone who runs a website should create and submit a sitemap to ensure that all their pages are crawled and indexed by search engines. This will help them rank better in the search engine results pages (SERPs), which can lead to more traffic and conversions for their business.
Do I Need a Sitemap?
While there’s no requirement to have a sitemap, it’s highly recommended. A sitemap helps search engines find pages on your website that they might not otherwise be able to find. This is important if your website is new or has a lot of pages. A sitemap can also be helpful if your website is dynamic or has a lot of regularly updated content.
Google suggests that if your website matches any of the following criteria, it’s a good idea to create a sitemap:
- You run a very large website with a large content page archive.
- Your website has many pages that are not well linked together.
- Your website is new and has few external links pointing to it.
- Your website is rich in content but doesn’t get much traffic.
What is an XML File? What is XML Used For?
An XML file is a type of file used to store data. They are often used to store sitemaps because humans and computers can read them. XML files are easy to create, even if you don’t know how to make an XML file, and any text editor can read them.
There are many reasons XML sitemaps are essential for websites and are a continued necessity for online success. XML sitemaps:
- Help search engine bots index all the pages on a website: This is important because if there are pages on a website that are not being indexed, they will not show up in SERPs when someone does a relevant search. This would defeat the purpose of having a website in the first place and harm profitable traffic and conversions.
- Easier site structure & navigation: Having an XML sitemap check will make it easier for search engine bots and users to navigate your website. This is because all the website pages will be linked in an XML file. Doing this will make it easier for bots to crawl and index all the pages on the website and make it easier for users to find the pages they’re looking for.
- Highlight the website’s purpose: The XML sitemap can help highlight the website’s goal to both users and search engine bots since the sitemap will list all the pages on the website and the hierarchy of those pages. This will help bots understand the website and how it is structured. It will also allow users to understand the website and what they can expect to find on it.
- Increase search engine visibility: You want your website to be visible in the SERPs for relevant searches to capitalize on potential traffic. XML sitemaps can help with this because they list all the pages on a website that a search engine should crawl and index. This will promote your offerings to those actively searching for content, products, or services like yours.
How To Setup a Sitemap
The following steps will show you how to create a sitemap and submit it to Google so that they can crawl and index your website.
Step 1: Gather all of your website’s URLs
The first step is to create a list of all the pages on your website. You will want to include the URL for each page and a brief description of what is on that page. This will help you organize your sitemap and make it easier for Google to understand your website.
Step 2: Code the URLs
Once you have your website’s URLs, you will need to code them into an XML file (the file you will submit to Google). The purpose of coding the URLs is to make it easier for Google to read and understand your sitemap in their language. Leveraging the best XML sitemap generator can help with this step.
Step 3: Sign into Google Search Console and click “sitemaps” in the left sidebar
Once you have coded your sitemap, you must submit it to Google. The best way to do this is through Google Search Console. Click on “sitemaps” on the left sidebar to be directed to where you can submit your sitemap.
Step 4: Enter your website URL sitemap
Enter your sitemap’s URL in the “Add a new sitemap” box. This is the location where you have stored your XML file.
Step 5: Click “Submit”
Once you have entered the URL for your sitemap, click “submit,” and your sitemap will be sent to Google. They will then crawl and index your website so that it can show up in SERPs.
Use a CMS or Screaming Frog
If you have a lot of pages on your website, it can be time-consuming to code them all into an XML file. Luckily, some tools can help with this.
If you use a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, some plugins will automatically generate a sitemap. All you have to do is install the plugin, which will handle the rest.
If you are not using a CMS, you can use a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl your website and generate a sitemap. This is a paid tool, but it does offer a free trial, so you can see if it is right for you. It will crawl your website and generate an XML sitemap that you can submit to Google.
Q: How can I make Google find my sitemap?
A: The best way to help Google find your sitemap is to submit it through Google Search Console. This will ensure that Google crawls and indexes your website so that it can show up in SERPs. It does this by adding your website’s URL to the list of pages they need to crawl and then periodically checking to see if any new pages have been added.
Q: What if my sitemap has errors?
A: If your sitemap has errors, likely, Google will not be able to crawl and index all of the pages on your website, which can hurt your website’s ranking in the SERPs. To fix this, you will need to go back and edit your sitemap to make sure that all of the URLs are coded correctly. Once you have done this, you can resubmit your sitemap to Google and check in periodically to ensure that there are no new errors.
Hire a Digital Marketing Agency Today
For many business leaders, setting up XML sitemaps is not a skill they have in-house. If that is the case for you, consider hiring a digital marketing agency to help you with this task and combat the never-ending question: “How to get my website to rank?”
At Zero Gravity Marketing, our digital agency has the experience and expertise to help you create an effective sitemap to promote your website in the SERPs. You can be assured that the job will be done correctly without worrying about wasting internal time and resources. Our website ranking services are like an automatic success button when promoting a website. They can be a valuable asset for any business that might struggle to get additional internal headcount or lacks in-house expertise. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you leverage XML sitemap best practices for your website and modernize your approach to digital marketing.