Today, nearly everything you do or add to your site affects your SEO performance.
One of the overlooked and misunderstood tools is the website sitemap. Many webmasters don't know that having a well-structured sitemap can be a driving factor for a website's success.
A sitemap offers a way for your site to communicate directly with search engines. This way, search engines can always stay up to date with changes on your site. This allows your site to be indexed faster.
In this post, we're going to learn more about the SEO benefits of having an XML sitemap.
Keep on reading to learn more.
A sitemap is typically an XML document, containing a list of pages and files on your website.
The document only features those items that search engines can access for indexing.
Search engines use this document as a guide to understanding your site better. However, keep in mind that search engines may not index every item on your sitemap.
The sitemap carries information about every page and file on your site. This includes when it was created and last modification. Sitemaps are particularly important for:
Large websites and portals
Websites with plenty of content but with poor internal linking
Sites that have rich media content
This doesn't mean that a website sitemap is not ideal for every site. Whatever website you run, having a sitemap helps to improve the crawling of your site.
In the age of regular algorithm updates from search engines, such as Google, sitemaps have become increasingly important in SEO. This is because having one gives better site visibility to search engines.
Search engines crawl your website to check for meta tags and other details for rating page relevancy to search terms. As such, the more indexed pages you have, the more likely your traffic and pagerank will increase.
Having duplicate pages means search engines have multiple options of the same page. This makes it hard for them to pick the ideal option when serving search queries. As such, they may fail to pick up any of the pages, and this hurts your SEO efforts.
Content duplication is a common problem for those sites with lots of content. Republishing posts also leads to duplication. Experiencing this problem puts your site at risk of Google's penalty.
Search engines may consider your site spammy.
With a sitemap, you can eliminate duplicate pages by providing searching engines content from the original creator. The sitemap shows the date and time of publishing.
Whether you're running a new or old site, you don't need to wait for weeks to have your site indexed. A well-structured website sitemap can reduce the time search engines to index new pages, content, and page updates.
Google finds and indexes pages even if you don't have a sitemap. By submitting one through your Google Search Console, you're helping Google to index your site better and faster.
You can tag pages on your sitemap to give priority to specific pages. This way, you can tell search engines which pages are relevant. Thus, crawlers and bots will pay attention to priority pages.
It's a common problem for many sites to lack consistency when communicating to search engines about a given page. For example, a site owner can block a page in robot.txt, but the same page is still available on the sitemap document.
Ideally, don't include anything in your website sitemap, then it set meta robots to "noindex." You can put your pages into two categories to prevent this problem. One category can be for pages blocked by robots.txt or via noindex robots. These pages shouldn't be in your sitemap.
The second category should feature everything that you want to be indexed. They shouldn't be blocked or have meta robots. When you want to create a site map, take the time to review your pages to determine what you want to be crawled and indexed.
Google is always taking measures to ensure overall site quality. These measures have been known to impact website ranking. Most site owners are known to have great landing pages, but with poor internal links to utility pages.
While the landing pages may be valuable to readers, the poor utility pages offer bad UX to visitors. With your website sitemap, you can submit pages that have quality content to search engines. This way, you can pay more attention to each page that you want to be a landing page.
As such, you can structure your sitemap based on pages that have quality content. It's not wise to have 1,000 pages in your sitemap with 50 percent getting a score of "D" or "F". This will tell search engines that your overall site quality is poor.
You don't need to wait until the next crawl date for search engines to pick up your content changes or updates. Your sitemap can take care of this for you.
Today, content modifications are necessary to keep your copies fresh and informative.
Whenever you make these changes, your sitemap will alert search engines every time. This will help to ensure that search engines have the most current copy of your content.
This will help to save time, especially when you're running a news site. You readers will always have access to what's relevant to them whenever they need it.
Well, if you have been taking a rain check on XML sitemaps, you might want to rethink about them. Keep in mind a sitemap is free and offers several benefits to boost your SEO performance.
Your website sitemap will help you to get discovered faster than before. With Google Search Console, you can check for sitemap errors and fix them fast. Bear in mind that you'll also get suggestions for fixing the errors to ensure optimal site quality and performance.
If you have any questions or thoughts about XML sitemaps, be sure to engage with us in the comments.
Search Engine Marketing Columnist
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