A Comprehensive Guide for Website Sitemaps

Congratulations on creating a fantastic website. You have completed your first step towards achieving your goal. But have you ever thought that your well-designed website is suitable for Google search or not?

If your response words include “not much greater,” then you have already joined the long queue of the website that are experiencing the same pain.

Most of the website owners think that their website is a “top-notch website” as they have invested their time and efforts in it. But with these, they don’t successfully achieve a sweet position on Google.

There are many reasons behind this type of outcome. One of them includes ignorance of the sitemap file. 

You may be out bursting on Google for not ranking the website, but Google is like a poor chap that does not have any information about your website. So you have to speak with such volume so that the world’s best search engine can listen to you easily. The way to do this is to submit your website sitemap to the console.

It is very useful and important to have a website sitemap. In this article, we will discuss this in little detail.

What is Sitemap?

Can you design your home without having any blueprint for that?

No, never.

This same logic goes with your website. The sitemap is considered as the roadmap for any website. It offers easy navigation to search engines and users for exploring the key pages and content.

Your website acts as the information hub for the users and has a variety of content such as images, texts, pdf, and other formats. These all are considered as the building blocks of a good website.

If you do not organize all these contents in a better way, and any of the visitors come across these pages, then it will look haphazard to them. The same thing is applicable with the bot of Google. If things remain unorganized, then robots will face difficulty in understanding different content on your site. But if you make this process easier for boys by organizing them, then the crawling of your web pages will get faster. Having an error-free sitemap offers ease to the bots to understand and crawl web pages. 

Is Sitemap Effective For The Faster Crawling Of Pages On Search Engines?

Yes, it is very much true, and you will experience it soon by doing so. In an intelligent manner, the sitemap of your website sends signals to the search engines for crawling web pages. Whenever you make changes in your website content, the sitemap automatically updates the stored data. And when Google crawler comes, sitemaps firstly put those content for immediate crawling. In this way, the newly added content gets indexed first. Also, if substantial improvement is made to improve the quality of content, then after recrawling, Google can rank that content in a higher position.

Is Sitemap Effective For The Faster Crawling Of Pages On Search Engines?​

The Experiment of Casey Henry's Regarding Site Map

Casey Henry, the co-founder of Spark Toro, does an experiment to get complete assurance that sitemaps are worthwhile for websites.

He was not so convinced with the general information related to the sitemap and best practices offered by Google. He made the decision to verify it himself.

To make his experiment successful, he contacted one of his clients and requested him to install his provided tracking code. Then he asked him to post articles on a regular basis. The client posted 12 articles and out of which Henry updated sitemaps for six articles and left six as it is.

crawl time

After experimenting, Henry was amazed to see the outcomes. The sitemap updated articles got indexed just within 14 minutes only. And the remaining 6 URLs took 1375 minutes to index and crawl.

This data represents that compared to Yahoo crawlers, the Google crawlers fast index the pages without sitemap. You should also consider that this data is from 2009, and in the current time, the crawling time of submitting the web pages without a sitemap has come down by 50%.

When Google identifies that website is continuously publishing content on a daily basis, then search engine bots will most often visit the site for crawling new pages.

When we talk about news websites that index lots of articles on Google in real-time, then what contributes to their faster indexing? The reason behind this is the RSS feed that remains attached to the Google News dashboard and Google News sitemap. 

Now we think that you have gained enough information regarding the importance of the faster indexing of the web pages. So let us move to another part.

What Are The Different Formats Accepted By Google As Sitemap?

Google has clearly stated that it easily accepts sitemaps of various formats. There is the only restriction on the sitemap size, i.e., the size of the file should be 50 MB. But you don’t have to bother about the size of the file as 50 MB size will include at least 50 0000 URLs. The different types of sitemaps are- 

  • XML Sitemap

This is the most common sitemap that you will notice. Extended Markup Language sitemaps are generated when you are running a WordPress website and using a plugin to generate a sitemap.

Example of XML Sitemap format:

				
					<url> 
<loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/</loc> 
<lastmod>2021-08-08</lastmod> 
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
 <priority>1</priority> 
</url>
				
			
  • Sitemap of Sitemaps

This concept is most suitable for shopping and news websites that add millions of URLs. The format of such files are similar to the normal one. The changes will be in elements of the file. 

For Example:

				
					<sitemapindex>
<sitemap>
<loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/sitemap1.xml.gz</loc>
</sitemap>
<sitemap>
<loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/sitemap2.xml.gz</loc>
</sitemap>
</sitemapindex>
				
			
  • RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0 Sitemaps

Such types of sitemaps are considered the best for magazine and news websites. It is because they use RSS feeds for several purposes. You might be knowing that Google loves to index the URLs that are organized in the RSS feed. You have to simply add the RSS feed URLs in the search console section of the sitemap. Whenever feeds get updated, Google News Crawler easily indexes the newly added pages. And these things will be done instantly.

  • Plain Text Sitemap

There are not so many technicalities involved in creating the sitemap, but certain people find it difficult. So for their convenience, Google has allowed simple text files to be used as sitemaps. Google has recently announced that files written in plain text with the list of URLs that need to be indexed would be treated as a sitemap of a website.

You need to keep a few things in mind while creating a simple text sitemap file.

→ You should use UTF-8 encoding while saving such a file.

→ There should be nothing but the URLs in the file. 

→ There is no restriction on the name of the file. But you should use the .txt extension for such files.

  • Video Sitemap

Currently, videos are trending, and you will find them mostly on all websites. Users remain engaged with good-quality videos. So to make search engines understand the inside content of the video and rank them in a better position, you need to provide a video sitemap.

Video sitemaps fulfill this purpose. Google bots don’t understand the inside content of the video that is available on the search engine giants. The video sitemap includes links to all videos uploaded on the website, along with links to all pages.

 Example of Video Sitemap

				
					<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.0">
<url>
<loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/videos/some_video_landing_page.html</loc>
<video>
   <content_loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/seovideo.flv</content_loc>
   <player_loc allow_embed="yes">https://marketingsweet.com.auvideoplayer.swf?video=123</player_loc>
   <title>SEO video</title>
<thumbnail_loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/thumbs/123.jpg</thumbnail_loc>
</video>
</url>
<url>
<loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/videos/some_other_video_landing_page.html</loc>
<video>
   <content_loc>https://marketingsweet.com.au/videos/video1.mpg</content_loc>
   <description>An Informative video</description>
</video>
</url>
</urlset>

				
			
  • Image Sitemap

Images are considered as the integral part of the webpage, and users are accustomed to seeing the images on the web pages for better understanding. Image sitemap gives search engines information about the images and linked pages. The images that have a sitemap also hold the chance to appear in the SERP features.

Image Sitemap Example

				
					<urlset xmlns_image="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1">
<url>
<loc>http://example.com/sample.html</loc>
<image>
<loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</loc>
</image>
<image>
<loc>http://example.com/photo.jpg</loc>
</image>
</url>
</urlset> 

				
			

How To Create A Sitemap?

Till now, we have discussed the technicality part of the sitemap. But now is the time to get into some depth about building a sitemap for one of the websites. 

In the current time, most of the websites are designed by using WordPress as their CMS. Because of this simple and DIY CMS, most of the business has come online. 

Any website that is built on wordpress can easily make a sitemap, so have you built the sitemap of your website?

If yes, then well and good; if not, you can create it with our simple steps.

  • Check Out What Pages Have To Be Added On The Sitemap

You might be having a new or old website, but it does matter because both of them will be having a number of junk pages in the form of canonicalized or redirected links. If you add such links in your sitemap, search engines will spend more time crawling the non-indexable pages. So to avoid such type of time wastage, you should make a list of URLs that are needed for a sitemap. Then, you should add the pages that are important to you.

You can identify such pages by using the Screaming Frog Tool and plugins like Yoast.

  • With The Help Of Screaming Frog 

Screaming Frog is popular desktop software with which most SEO professionals will be familiar. You will love the features of this software. 

→ Open the link and add your website URL.

Open the link and add your website URL

→ Click on ‘XML Sitemap’ option under ‘Sitemaps’ in the top-level menu.

sitemapxml

→ Mark on Next and download the sitemap.

Mark on Next and download the sitemap

  • By Using Yoast Plugin

If you have a WordPress CMS, then your work will get sorted to a large extent. The popular SEO plugin Yoast has been downloaded by 5+ active users, and it is one of the simple and easy sitemap generator tools.

yoast

It is very convenient for the users to create a sitemap because as soon as you install this plugin, the sitemap for your website is automatically generated.

You have to open the Yoast setting, and inside the general setting, you will see what features are offered by the Yoast plugin.

Ways To Create SEO-Friendly Sitemaps Using Online Tools

You will get lots of free tools available online to generate the static XML file that can be uploaded on the webserver and afterwards to the search console. We are describing some of them here.

  • XML Sitemaps

By using this tool, you can easily generate an error-free sitemap upto 500 pages without any cost. For more than 500 URLs, you need to go with a paid version.

  • XML Sitemap Generator

It is a free tool that is very reliable for creating sitemaps for websites. This tool is available both in the form of a plugin and online software. You can change the date, frequency, and priority of the website.

  • My Sitemap Generator

It is another free online tool that is used for creating sitemaps. Upto 500 URLs is free, but if you aim to use more than 500 URLs, you have to use the paid version, i.e., Static Pro and Dynamic.

Steps To Submit Sitemap To Search Console

After creating the sitemap, you need to ensure that Google gets access to it without any trouble. Website owners have to upload their website sitemap on Google Search Console and ensure that crawlers get it by default.

You have to follow certain steps to submit your sitemap on Google Search Console.

Step:1 Log into Google Search Console

Step:2 Go with the Sitemap option present inside the index tab.

Step:3 By entering the URL of your website sitemap hit the submit button.

Step:4 After submitting, you need to check the status

Step: 5 If you find some errors, then correct them and resubmit.

SEO Sitemap Priority

While building website sitemaps with tools, you may have come across the sitemap attribute ‘Priority’ ( tag). 

With this tag, you can inform Google about the significance of the pages. The priority of pages is calculated on the basis of different factors. 0.0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0, are the digits used for describing the priority level in which 0.0 represents least priority and 1.0 is the topmost priority.

There is still discussion going on about whether Google crawlers considered the priority attribute or not while indexing the pages. On the official sitemap page, you will get this information in more detail.

Conclusion

Sitemaps offer ease to search engines to crawl and index websites. Along with search engines, users also experience easy navigation. Whenever you update content on your website, both search engines and users will get informed of that. These things are beneficial for improving the ranking and reputation of the website. It will result in more and more conversions and new visits to your website.

If you want to explore more about website sitemap, you can associate with the professional of Marketing Sweet. Our well-experienced and skilled SEO professionals will do the best-desired work to improve the website visibility and ranking. 

Feel free to discuss your requirements with us at 08 8337 4340.

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