SEO optimization is something that takes precedence when you want to grow your brand today. A lot of brands go all out when it comes to optimizing their brand website but sometimes miss out on the basic and most critical parts of the process.
One such basic (but important) cog in the SEO optimization machinery is the website’s sitemap.
What is a sitemap?
Put simply, a sitemap for a website has all its pages listed like a directory so search engine spiders can make sense of what your website is about. Needless to say, this file should be easily available to the crawlers.
There are 2 types of sitemaps – HTML and XML. An HTML sitemap is structured so that it can be used by people to find content they require on the website. They do not contain all the pages of a website. These kinds of sitemaps are written for people and not for SEO.
An XML sitemap is a much more comprehensive version of the HTML sitemap and has a more elaborate functionality suite, like the ability to customize the hierarchy or priority of the content available. This is also optimized for search engine spiders which can make use of all those details found inside the file.
What does a sitemap do?
With the sitemap file, you letting crawlers know exactly what you want them to crawl through on your website. You can even list pages that you don’t want to be accessed. What this means is that you can control access on your website by choosing which pages you need search engines to index on search engine results.
There are several tools and plugins that can help you create a sitemap. But you need to be careful with it as a wrong entry on the file will mean that money pages on your website don’t get crawled. This can be disastrous for your business, so be cautious when you’re creating the sitemap file.
Does your sitemap affect your SEO?
Since there are billions of websites out there, it can be a monumental task to get into the first 10 results for any niche. You need to give your brand everything it needs to compete with your competition. Just optimizing your website for keywords and getting backlinks won’t do the trick anymore.
Sitemaps have become an essential part of the SEO process and is key for ranking well within your niche.
Let’s take a look at a few reasons why you should opt for a sitemap –
A sitemap ensures that your website is accurately ranked within the SERPs. This is done by the search engine by saving data from a particular location on the sitemap for reference.
An XML sitemap is a global standard and most of the browsers recognize it which means that you only need to keep one file updated. Also, because the sitemap file is so easy to modify at your end, content that is added or taken away can be edited on the file without any fuss.
Websites need to be relevant to the search term to be ranked high. A sitemap has a lot of details about the website which helps establish the niche, type, and nature of the content of the website, making it a lot easier for crawlers to index it better.
All these properties of sitemaps can increase the potency of your SEO process. Plus, the higher the ranking for the website the more are the chances for your website to gain even more traffic. So getting an effective sitemap going for the website has a kind of positive domino-effect.
Creating and submitting a sitemap
Now that you know the benefits of a sitemap, you need to go about creating one. There are a lot of tools and plugins you can use to create your own sitemap for your website. A website like XML Sitemaps (https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/) can help you get the right format of sitemap.
After creating the sitemap, you need to submit it to search engines so it can rank quicker on searches. Search engines index your website a lot quicker when you submit it. Otherwise your website will only get indexed when it is mentioned elsewhere on the World Wide Web. When you submit updated sitemaps on a regular basis, you will notice that your website rankings increase a lot quicker.
Sitemaps and content duplication
Content duplication results in huge penalties because of the recent Panda update with the Google Algorithm. An XML sitemap completely helps you avoid this by making sure that syndicated content is marked appropriately. You can do the same for content on your website as well to prevent plagiarism. Marking content on the website that you created means that other websites that use this will be flagged for duplicate content. XML sitemaps is the quickest method to let the search engines know that you’ve updated content on your website without having to wait for them to crawl through.
Sitemaps are pretty much mandatory for websites if you are looking for them to rank quickly. It is something that doesn’t take a lot of time but increases the effectiveness of the SEO process manifold. While creating a sitemap is great for your business, you also need to remember to do so correctly, else it can backfire. So, if you haven’t taken a look at your website’s sitemap in a long while, you’d best get to it. It might give you the ranking boost you need to power through your competitors!