The Importance Of Sitemaps In SEO
In 2022 most websites will have a fairly easy-to-find sitemap. Typically they are found in the footer, however, other businesses will opt to tick them away and purely have them available for search engine crawlers for the purpose of search engine optimisation (SEO).
Simply put, a sitemap is a file which provides a list of all the pages available on the site that are visible to search engines. A further in-depth sitemap will provide information on each page, video, image and other files on the site, and the relationships between them.
An XML sitemap is a sitemap that has been produced to be crawled by only search engine bots. Meanwhile, an HTML sitemap can be crawled by search engine bots, and also viewed by users of the site. This is, of course, if a link has been included to the webpage.
For Search Engines
While many sitemaps are visible to a standard visitor to the site, they are not the primary target audience. They can make a great place for users to find the page that they are looking for, however, they are often unattractive and confusing.
For search engines, sitemaps act as a blueprint of the site. This blueprint allows for bots to know which pages are available to crawl, and therefore rank. When an HTML sitemap is linked from the homepage of a site, this offers bots an easily accessible list of all URLs.
Alongside the crawlability, a sitemap linked from the homepage also ensures that there should be no more than 3 clicks to find any page – a metric that Google considers when allocating a page rank.
Styles Of Sitemaps
While all sitemaps have the same function, they can be presented in different formats.
The most common, and simple, form of sitemap is simple a list of URLs.
The preferred style of sitemap is a visual structure. This helps to map out pages and display their importance. This style is ideal both for users and bots.
Finally, if you have a larger website, the best practice is that the site is segmented into multiple sitemaps (of either list or visual). Sitemaps should never be more than 50,000 URLs or 10MB in size. However, even if you have a significantly smaller site, multiple segmented sitemaps can help your site be crawled quickly and in its entirety.
Submitting A Sitemap
A common question that we see is “Do I need to submit my sitemap to Google?”. Simply, you do not have to, but you can.
If you choose not to submit your sitemap to Google, the bots will eventually crawl it anyway. Submitting your sitemap to Google will speed along the crawling process, and instruct Google as to which pages on the site it would like Google to crawl.
Before submitting your sitemap to Google, or having your sitemap available to be crawled, you will want to ensure that all errors have been addressed, as your rankings can be hurt if there are broken links, missing images and orphaned pages. Should your sitemap be crawled with errors, you will want to resubmit the sitemap as soon as they have been rectified to minimalise the damage.
If you would like to learn more about search engine optimisation in Staffordshire or would like to discuss technical SEO for your site, please contact the team here at Netbiz. Our team of experts are on hand to improve your website’s visibility and improve your conversions and revenue as a result.