February 03, 2022
XML sitemaps are among those highly useful SEO techniques that deliver great results for fewer efforts. And not just that, it is an extremely easy practice, that lets you create a fine XML sitemap in a few minutes. So, if you are keen to understand what are XML sitemaps and how they can help you rank higher, you must read the following article till the end.
An XML sitemap or Extensible Markup Language Sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs of a website. In other words, it is a map of the website structure, the important web pages, and the different types of page content/files, the website contains. The different file types supported by XML sitemaps include:
XML Sitemaps serve the following purposes:
If the website is large, it is possible that search engine web crawlers may not crawl a few of the newly added/updated pages. In such a scenario, a sitemap can help them discover and index those pages.
Crawlers crawl the internet by following links from one page to another. Here they may not discover web pages if no other/external website links with them. Hence one can prevent this by listing those pages in the sitemap.
If your website contains a lot of images and videos or appears in news, sitemaps will help search engines to fetch more information about such type of content.
XML sitemap example
<?xml version=”1.0” encoding=”UTF-8”>
<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9” xmlns:xhtml=”http:www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>
<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”https://www.example.com”/>
<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”fr” href=”https://www.example.com/fr”/>
The following tags are used in XML Sitemaps:
Basically, there are two types of Sitemaps:
XML sitemaps guide search engine bots to make sure they discover a website’s URL to index. They provide search engines with a list of the most important URLs on a website. These sitemaps can be divided into four types:
HTML sitemaps, in contrast to XML, guide the visitors of the website. These are links given in the footer of the web page, which guides visitors to easily navigate across the website.
Besides telling search engines to crawl and index a website effectively, XML sitemaps have the following advantages:
Along with the various advantages, XML sitemaps have a few disadvantages as well:
Read More: Advantages and Disadvantages of Nofollow Links
Websites need XML sitemaps when:
Page URLs that are the most relevant to you should be in your XML sitemap. If you want visitors to land on a particular page that produces good results, you must list it in the sitemap. On the other hand, if you do not want certain pages to display in the search results, you can add a ‘noindex’ tag. However, it does not mean that search engines won’t be able to index them. They can easily find those URLS if discovered by following links.
You can create XML Sitemap using the following tools:
Screaming Frog is a sitemap generator that can create XML sitemaps for any website, regardless of the website size, CMS, and age. It gives you free crawling access to 500 web pages, however, beyond that, you’d require a Screaming frog license. To create an XML sitemap, follow these steps:
These pages have HTML code in the header that tells search engines to not include that page in the search index. Hence if some pages are set ‘noindex’ by the developer, prefer not to check this box.
Sometimes, more than one URL is directed to the same web page. Hence, if you’ll check the ‘Include Canonicalised’ option, it means you are telling search engines to crawl all the variations of the URLs. So unless you’re sure, leave it unchecked.
Paginated URLs include rel= attributes as in [rel= “prev” and “next”], to switch from one content to another on the website. Prefer not to check this box, as this can harm SEO unless proper care is taken.
Check this box if you want to include important PDFs on your website in your XML sitemap.
Yoast is among WordPress’s most popular SEO plugins that aid in creating and submitting XML sitemaps. Before you create a sitemap, you will need a wordpress.org.site account, an installed Yoast plugin, and access to Google Search Console. Once you are done, follow these steps to create XML sitemaps using the Yoast SEO sitemap generator:
Read More: How to Install Yoast Wordpress SEO Plugin to Your Website
Creating an XML sitemap using an online sitemap generator is easy. Follow these simple steps:
After creating XML sitemaps, you can submit them to anyone among the following:
Once you create an XML sitemap, submit it to Google using the following steps:
Read More: How To Make Your Site More Visible on Google
To submit your XML sitemap to Bing, follow these simple steps:
Submitting an XML sitemap to Yandex is as easy as it is with Bing. Follow these steps:
Read More: Importance of SEO-Friendly URL for Website
To check sitemap errors using Google Webmaster, follow these steps:
To check sitemap errors using Bing Webmaster, follow these steps:
To check sitemap errors using XML validator, follow these steps:
Read More: 5 tools used to analyze websites
So now that you know the importance of the XML sitemap, you can definitely go ahead and heave one to help improve your site’s SEO. the search engines will not only get access to your most important web pages but also find the most updated content with ease. Moreover, the process of creating sitemaps is pretty simple and so is to check the sitemap errors.
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