If you’re serious about improving your website’s SEO, then creating a sitemap is a must. XML sitemaps are a cornerstone of good SEO, and creating one is a quick and easy way to give your site an instant boost on Google.
XML sitemaps help search engines index your website more effectively, making it easier for them to find and rank your content. But what does that actually mean?
Why is an XML sitemap important for SEO?
Google uses bots called crawlers to automatically scan websites by following links on the site itself from one page to another. Think of crawlers like librarians sorting through and indexing all of the books in a library so that they can be found more easily. If Google’s crawlers don’t index your website, then it won’t show up in search results.
Crawlers can use your website’s internal link structure — like your site’s menu or links on its sidebar — to index the site, but your site may have pages that are not linked to anywhere on your site. If this is the case, Google’s crawlers won’t find those pages and they cannot be indexed.
But you can make sure Google finds every page you want indexed by creating an XML sitemap. This is a sitemap meant just for search engines, with a clear structure that crawlers can index easily.
How to create an XML sitemap
Creating a sitemap doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming. In fact, many easy-to-use tools can help you generate an XML sitemap quickly and easily.
Before you create your sitemap, make sure you’ve checked Google’s guidelines. Your sitemap is limited to 50,000 URLs , but if your site has more links than that, you can create multiple sitemaps. Make sure you’re not including 404 pages or redirected URLs.
The most effective sitemaps are up to date (with no dead or old links) and use default location and filenames (/sitemap.xml) and XML Sitemap Indexes (/sitemap_index.xml), so they are easy for crawlers to find and are referenced in your site’s robots.txt file.
You don’t have to include every page on your website in your sitemap, just the ones you want Google to index. Make sure you include your most important pages, such as your “About Us” or products page if you’re a business.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, all you need to do is submit it to Google via the Google Search Console. This is completely free, and can be done within minutes — and you only have to submit it once.
On average, it takes between four days and four weeks for Google to crawl and index your site, though very large sites may take longer. However, it shouldn’t be long until you start seeing results.
Creating an XML sitemap is a quick and easy task that really pays off when it comes to improving your SEO. If you’re looking for a quick SEO win, a sitemap is a perfect place to start.
1. “Build and submit a sitemap”, accessed July 2022, developers.google.com/search/docs/advanced/sitemaps/build-sitemap