What is a Sitemap?
When it comes to SEO, webmasters go the extra mile to implement the best SEO strategy and get the highest possible ranking in search engines. One such SEO strategy that has become trending recently is Sitemap.
An XML sitemap is a crucial SEO component that is used to display certain information on your website. Basically, it is a list of all the pages or URLs of a website. It informs the search engines about the number of URLs available on your website. A sitemap is a one-stop platform for Google to locate, read, and index all your website pages instead of going through the manual process of using internal links to find other pages on your website. This potential of XML sitemaps to improve and speed up the indexation process is mainly needed for the websites that:
- Add new URLs frequently
- Update the existing posts regularly
- Do not implement a strong internal linking strategy
- Don’t have a proper external link profile
- Have a large number of URLs and a complicated website structure.
Contradictory to popular beliefs, a sitemap isn’t a technical SEO audit tool. You don’t need to be a tech-wizard to implement a sitemap on your website. Before we discuss its implementation, let’s see why it is needed.
Why is sitemap in SEO and Why is it Needed?
The main priority of Google is to display the most relevant search results to the users. To do that, Google uses site crawlers to find and index the webpage. Undoubtedly, an XML sitemap is an SEO tool since it allows the site crawlers to check, read, and index your content quickly. Even if your site navigation is tricky, Google will find it easier to crawl your web pages and make them go live on the internet using the XML sitemap.
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Implementing a sitemap is crucial for a website since it asks the crawlers to locate a particular page on your website and index it. Without this SEO tool, it will get difficult for site crawlers to find your page and index it. An unindexed page cannot be found in search engines.
How to implement a Sitemap manually
- Review the Current Structure of Your Pages
- Code Every URL
- Validate the Code
- Add the XML Sitemap to robots.txt
- Submit the Sitemap
The main problem with this process is the high difficulty level. Only people with basic to advanced HTML knowledge can implement a sitemap on their website. Additionally, it consumes a lot of time. If you want an easy and faster way of implementing a sitemap, you must try free XML sitemap generator plugins. WordPress has many plugins, such as Yoast SEO, that create your sitemap in seconds.
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Note that the XML sitemap is designed for crawling special and important pages that the webmaster wants to be indexed as quickly as possible. Your XML sitemap does not need to house all the pages on your website. By allowing the Google spider to access your XML sitemap, you are speeding up the indexation process.
Some of the basic pages that do not need to be included in the sitemaps are as follows:
- Duplicate pages
- Comment replies URL
- Archive pages
- Non-canonical pages
- Noindex pages
- URLs blocked by robots.txt
- Resource pages
- Site search result pages
For large and heavy websites that have a lot of pages, the webmasters will need to implement multiple XML sitemaps (which is later combined into one sitemap) to accommodate all the pages. The maximum limit of the pages and URLs a single XML sitemap can hold is 50,000.