An XML sitemap is a digital map that enables search engine web crawlers to search, crawl, and index every available content of a website. It’s a compilation of all the live URLs published on the pages of a website, which guides search engine bots about the relevance of the contents and how they are related to each other. In essence, it provides direction on the valuable pages to be crawled and indexed by providing helpful information about the pages.
Each sitemap has its own URLs and can be positioned anywhere on a website’s server. It simply guides search engine bots to crawl your website more efficiently, increasing your chances of attaining a higher SEO ranking.
It helps search engine crawlers understand how a website is structured, making it easier to navigate on such a website. Here is a guide to help your website get indexed quicker and more efficiently by search crawlers:
1. Using The XML Tags
The sitemap has different URL tags that identify the location and the URL of a page. Each tag has a specific function. The tags include lastmod, priority, and changefreq, among others. The <lastmod>, which stands for ‘last modified,’ provides the needed information to search bots on the type of modification that has taken place on your pages. This tag should only be updated when you make a relevant change to a page.
Another is the <changefreq> tag, which stands for ‘change frequency.’ It informs search crawlers how often a particular page is likely to be modified or updated with new content. You can specify how such a page is changing as it can be set to always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, or never. The XML sitemap change frequency is relatively easy to assign to a page—simply identify the tag, write the changing rate, and close it out.
The <priority> tag lets search engines know how valuable a page is in relation to other pages on your website. You can set the priority tag on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0, with 1.0 being the most prominent and 0.0 being the least important.
2. Tools For Sitemap
Creating a sitemap can be pretty intimidating and challenging if you choose to craft one manually by adhering to the XML sitemap code structure. Well, you can have a stress-free sitemap by taking advantage of the numerous sitemap generators available. The great thing about these tools is that they’re cost-free. However, most of them may require you to pay to access enhanced features for your website, so you can enjoy maximum benefit.
Identify the most relevant and useful ones to achieve a successful sitemap for your website. They can help you save time and resources. Moreover, these tools perform essential functions when it comes to improving the SEO ranking of your website.
3. Review The Structure Of Your Pages
Reviewing the structure of the pages on your website should be a top priority. Take the time to check out the structure of the existing content on your website. To make this easier, you can use sitemap templates used for surveying the contents of a website. Most of these templates are easy to customize along with your website. With a proper sitemap template, figuring out how your pages should be arranged and displayed won’t require much effort.
Analyses of your pages should be done to ensure that every page can be reached quickly for proper indexing by search crawlers. Start reviewing from the homepage and position the hierarchy of pages based on their relevance and how you want them to be indexed. Arrange the contents of the pages in a logical structure that will make it simple to navigate to any page on your website.
It’s not compulsory that all your pages be on the sitemap, but you should include the pages with the most relevant content. You should avoid indexing pages with duplicated content, session id-based URL, archived pages, and paginated pages.
The sitemap is a critical component of a website, but it isn’t compulsory when it comes to the functionality of your website. It serves as a guide for search engine bots to crawl and index the important contents on your website, especially the contents you think are essential, in a more efficient manner. However, if it’s not well-optimized, it can negatively impact your website because search crawlers might miss the valuable content on your pages.
As having a well-crafted sitemap is beneficial for any website, particularly those that are exceptionally large and laden with rich media content, it’s worth your while to create one for your website and leverage sitemap crawling to improve your SEO.
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