What is a Sitemap and How is it Useful

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Learn about sitemaps

Learn about sitemaps

An XML Sitemap can be crucial for SEO. It is not the same thing as a site map, which is a web page showing the entire structure of a site, to help visitors find their way around. All the major search engine companies support and recommend the use of XML Sitemaps, as they enable search robots to crawl the whole of a site, making sure that every page is included. This is extremely useful as it makes a positive difference for search engine optimization.

XML Sitemaps are special files, listing all the URLs within a website. They are manually submitted to search engines to increase the chances of all a site’s pages being crawled and indexed. The information they contain helps search robots to discover pages that might otherwise have been missed.

There are many ways of creating a Sitemap and as the process is fairly complex, requiring some knowledge of coding, it is well worth hiring the services of a reputable SEO company to carry out the work. What is known as ‘XML Sitemap generators’ are available online. These can automatically generate a Sitemap file and in some cases may also submit the file to search engines. Alternatively, a basic text file can be produced which lists all the pages on a site.

Sometimes some pages have similar content. Here the Sitemap is extremely useful, as it can include information specifying which is the definitive version. This is a better option than leaving the search engines to choose which page to display in their search results, which can prove detrimental. Other data contained inside Sitemaps includes: when pages were last updated, and how often such updates have generally been carried out. This can affect how frequently search robots visit a particular site in the future.

Site Mapping

After they have been created, Sitemap files are always placed inside one of the high-level directories of a site, preferably the root folder. It is necessary to update them occasionally, when new pages are added to the site, and when several pages are removed for any reason. Each of the major search engines will require a Sitemap to be supplied, so each time there is an update a new file will have to be submitted to all of them.

Although it might initially seem like they involve quite a lot of work, the benefits of Sitemaps are worth it, as their presence means search engines will be likely to crawl all the pages of a site and in the case of duplication will know exactly which page is the original version.

It is generally thought that, when a website has taken the time to create an XML Sitemap and register it with a search engine company such as Google, this increases its apparent trustworthiness. What is known is that including a Sitemap certainly seems to improve the search engine optimization of a website.

Site Mapping A Route To SEO Success

People often get wrapped up with the fanfare of websites and forget about the little things that make a big difference not only to users but also to their search engine optimization strategy. A perfect example of this is site maps. Often hidden away in the depths, these unassuming pages can have a huge influence on making your site as user-friendly as possible and easy for search engines to index.

Yes, it’s true, they don’t have the eye-catching appeal of a fancy homepage or a product page with snazzy images, but the beauty of site maps is their pure, unadulterated simplicity, which makes them an incredibly useful tool for both users and the search engine spiders – ideal for SEO.

In terms of visitors to your site, many people drastically underestimate how often users will refer to a site map to find what they are looking for. Yes, you have installed a fancy navigation tool but what if users don’t know exactly what they are looking for? This renders the search option useless and without a site map, it can lead to visitors quickly becoming frustrated and navigating away from the site to look for the information or products elsewhere.

Web users are renowned for their impatience and can navigate away from a page, even if you are offering what they need, just because they couldn’t see it straight away. A site map enables them to quickly see a complete overview of all your pages to help them to find the information they need as fast as possible.

Sitemaps are also vital SEO tools in terms of engaging with the search engines themselves and play an important role in Internet reputation management and link building strategies.  Everyone likes an easy life, even search engine spiders and bots, so if you make it easy for them to see what you do they can rank you more quickly and easily, and a site map is a perfect way to do this.

A site map does what it says on the tin and is one of the most simple and effective search engine optimization tools available, but because it just gets on with its job many people overlook it, which is why it is often wrongly ignored. It’s a great way to include a wider range of subject-specific keywords and internal links straightforwardly and ethically so that both your users and the search engines will love your site, which all results in increased traffic and higher listings, i.e. a win-win situation!

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