What is an XML sitemap and why do you need it?
It’s Monday again and as usual, I’ll be putting my thoughts out there on a specific topic. As you can tell from the title I’m going to attempt to highlight what a sitemap is and why you need it.
An XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website which leads Google to all your important pages. XML sitemaps can be good for SEO, as they allow Google to quickly find your essential website pages, even if your internal linking isn’t perfect.
Now let’s talk about why sitemaps are important.
What websites need an XML sitemap?
This one is quite simple. Every website needs an XML Sitemap. Obviously, larger websites see more value in sitemaps since they have much more content than a simple brochure style website, so they need to let Google and other search engines know of all the links to all their content.
Which pages should be in your XML sitemap?
Generally, a sitemap must contain all your pages with content on them which a user finds useful. Let’s look at this more in depth. Ask yourself these two simple questions:
- When a visitor lands on a URL, is it a good result?
If so then yes it should be in the sitemap
- Do you want visitors to land on that URL?
If not, it probably shouldn’t be in your XML sitemap. However, if you really don’t want that URL to show up in the search results you’ll need to add a “noindex, nofollow” tag. Leaving it out of your XML sitemap doesn’t mean Google won’t index the URL. If Google can find it by following links, Google can index the URL.
How to make Google find your XML sitemap
It’s quite easy really, you need an account with Google Search Console which is basically already true if you have a Gmail account or a YouTube account or any other Google services related account. Look at the image below that shows my own websites XML sitemap submitted
To see my websites’ sitemap in XML format you can go to my XML Sitemap Index as you can see this is an index of my available sitemaps. I have different ones for my pages, my posts, my testimonials, my categories etc. This is basically forward planning due to the fact that my site has a blog and testimonials which increase over time so it’s a good idea to have separate sitemaps for then. Sitemap Indexes are generally good practice.
If you have any questions, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org