Creating a sitemap of pages for your website
Sitemaps are a key part of Search Engine Optimisation, as they tell the likes of Google about the content of your site and where it can be found. While you don’t have to have a sitemap, it does help search engines to discover and intelligently crawl your website and rank it accordingly. If you have lots of pages on your website, this can be especially helpful as pages may be overlooked, otherwise.
You will no doubt have been encouraged by your web developer to have pages on your website that link to each other, and drive your audience to visit different areas. If your site has lots of single pages that don’t do this, then having a sitemap would improve their chance of being picked up by Google. The same goes for external links, as web crawlers follow links from page to page – so if page is not linked to another, and it’s not listed on a sitemap, it may never be picked up by a search engine.
If you have lots of media files or news pages, sitemaps can help Google to understand not only what pages to index, but what the content is.
How do you best attract the bots and crawlers?
An Xml sitemap is specifically aimed at search engine bots and crawlers, and will also feature the metadata associated with the site’s pages. You might have seen metadata in the back end of your website and used it when uploading content. This information tells the bot when the page was created, updated, what the content involves, and how important it is. If you’re using a plugin like Yoast SEO on WordPress, it will create and organise these files for you. All in all, if you have a website which contains under 50,000 pages or uses less than 10MB, this is by far the easiest way to create and submit your sitemap.
What about making it easy for the audience, instead?
Visual sitemaps make it easier for people to navigate your website (rather than bots and crawlers), and it’s up to you whether you include every page or just the top level pages to help people to get around your site. The added bonus here is that the internal pages become linked, so bots and crawlers will be encouraged to see trawl your content.
Will an RSS feed do?
Yes. Both Atom and RSS feed URLs can be submitted, instead.
All this sounds beyond me, can I just send the links in?
Another yes! If you don’t know your XML from your RSS, that’s no problem. Google will take a txt file with every URL on your site listed.
While having a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that everything you list will be picked up by Google, in most cases, your site will benefit – and Google won’t push your site down the ranks for having one.
If you’d like to talk about how best to create a sitemap for a website your size or when and how to take the next step, please get in touch…