A sitemap is a file containing information about the pages, videos, and other files on your website and how they are related. Major search engines like Google read the sitemap to more efficiently crawl your website. This file tells Google which pages and files are important content for your site, and it provides valuable information about them. A sitemap can be used to give information about specific types of content on your web pages. A sitemap video entry provides details about the video running time, category, and age-appropriate ratings. A sitemap image entry details the image subject matter, type, and usage license. A sitemap news entry provides information about the article title and publication date.
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Is a Sitemap Necessary?
When your site’s pages are properly linked, search engines can discover most of your site’s content. Properly linked pages are those that can be found through navigation, such as your site’s menu or the internal links placed on your web pages. A sitemap improves the crawling of larger, more complex websites or specialized files.
If you have a large website, search engine crawlers may overlook some new or recently updated web pages. You may need a sitemap if your site has a large archive of content pages that are either isolated or poorly linked. Googlebot and web crawlers crawl the internet following links from one page to the next. If your site is new and doesn’t have many external links, Google may not discover your pages since no other websites link to them.
There are some instances in which website owners might not need a sitemap. A small site with fewer than 500 web pages doesn’t need a sitemap. A website that has comprehensive internal links doesn’t need a sitemap because Google can find all of the important pages by following the internal links starting at the homepage. You don’t need a sitemap if you don’t have many media files or news pages that need to show in search results.
How To Build a Sitemap for Google
Building a sitemap to highlight the importance of each page on your site is one of the best practices in SEO efforts. The easiest way to build a sitemap is to follow LinkGraph’s comprehensive guide on how to create a sitemap for Google. There are different ways to create a sitemap that’s properly optimized to improve your site’s search engine ranking and visibility.
You can create a sitemap file for your WordPress site using the Yoast plugin. Yoast is a popular WordPress plugin for SEO and includes a sitemap index file builder, which makes it easy to create a sitemap for a WordPress site. Google once offered website owners a sitemap creator in their webmaster tools; however, this feature was taken out of circulation. Now, you can create a sitemap in Google Search Console. Another option for creating a sitemap is to use the free version of Screaming Frog SEO Spider. You can also opt to create a sitemap manually and practice your technical SEO skills. Creating a sitemap.xml file manually is more time-intensive, but this method provides insights into the structure of your website.
Common Sitemap Creation Mistakes To Avoid
There are several common mistakes to avoid during the building process. Make sure to include all of the pages on your site in your sitemap, even the pages that don’t have an internal link from the main page. Always update your sitemap when you add new pages or make updates so that search engines can crawl the new pages. Only include the most important pages on your site in the sitemap. Including too many pages could prevent search engines from crawling all of them, but too few pages could result in your site not being fully indexed. It’s important to create an easy-to-read and -understand sitemap so that readers can find the information they need quickly. Be sure to use the correct XML version for your sitemap so that Googlebot can crawl your pages.
Keep these tips in mind when building a sitemap for Google. When done right, a sitemap improves your SEO ranking and visibility.