Have you ever come across a book that’s missing an index page? You wouldn’t have, I’m certain. But why is the index page included in every book that is printed, and how does it benefit you? The answer is clear and unchangeable. It’s because the book’s index page directs the reader through the book. It summarises everything in the book and the order in which it is presented. This makes it simple for the reader to browse the book. 

The situation with sitemaps is similar. In other words, the index serves to organise the book and give it a professional appearance. The sitemap, on the other hand, directs visitors and search engines through the website, similarly to how the index directs readers.

However, you might not be as fond of website sitemaps. They’re not fun and are not very simple to understand. But if you get them right, they can lead to a better ranking and more website visitors.

So, in this post, We are going to share with you what a sitemap is and why it matters in SEO. 

Sitemap: What it is and How it Works?

A sitemap is a file that contains the URLs to all of your website’s key pages. The main goal is to make it easier for search engines to understand your website and find specific pages. Sitemaps are also another tool that users can use to navigate your website easily.

You must first understand how search engines function to appreciate the importance of sitemaps in SEO. The definitions of the words “crawl” and “index” in particular.

  • Google has bots, often known as spiders, that continuously browse the internet and index site pages. This is what we call crawling.
  • The process of categorising and storing each page the bot finds in Google’s enormous index is known as indexing.

In this way, Google doesn’t actually search the entire web in real time for you when you use its search engine. Instead, it’s looking through its orderly index, which is how it can quickly display results.

All of this means that if your page is difficult to crawl, it might not get indexed by Google, and if Google does not index it, it won’t appear in a Google search. Sitemaps become important in this situation.

Is It Necessary for You to Have a Sitemap?

Technically, a sitemap is not required. You can launch your website without one, and you’ll still get some visitors. Consider a website where the “home page” is the only page there. In such an instance, submitting a sitemap to help discover URLs on your website would be pointless because there would only be one URL.

Although Google often does a decent job of finding websites on the internet on its own, some sites may benefit more than others by having a sitemap to boost their SEO. Google states that you need a sitemap if:

  • Your website is massive (500+ pages) – Having thousands of pages increases the likelihood that Google’s crawlers will miss newly added or updated pages.
  • You need more internal linking – it means you have lots of orphan pages.
  • Your site is either brand-new or has limited backlinks – Connections from one website to another are how web crawlers find pages on websites.
  • Your website widely uses rich media – you use many images, videos, or news articles you want to appear in search results.

Top Benefits of Sitemaps

You may rank for your target keywords more effectively and get more traffic to your website by making your site easier for Google to crawl and understand. 

Here is a more detailed look at the benefits of having a sitemap:

Get Your Pages Indexed and Crawled More Quickly

Google is unable to crawl the entire internet continuously. Instead, it has various crawl “schedules” for various websites and content types; as a result, it occasionally takes Google days, weeks, or even months to find new pages on your website. 

If you have a sitemap, it can speed up Google’s ability to find and index new pages on your website.

Maintain Optimal Performance of High-Value Pages

Have you ever updated a page on your website, perhaps to update evergreen content, but failed to see the updated version appear in the SERP? 

That’s because Google hasn’t indexed the page since you updated it. Make sure that users see the most recent version of your most valuable and frequently modified sites by improving the crawling and indexing process.

Helping Search Engines Find Orphan Pages More Easily

Google’s bots frequently find sites on your website by following links on the pages it’s crawling, much like people do (which is why internal linking is so important). 

Orphan pages are those on your website with no other links connecting to them, making them difficult for Google to find. However, Google will find and crawl those pages more quickly if you include a sitemap for them.

Assist Google in Detecting Duplicate Pages

A business website may contain duplicate or nearly identical pages in some situations. For instance, on an e-commerce site, you can have identical product pages for the same item in multiple colours. 

In certain circumstances, Google could not understand which version of the page you want to rank as the primary version. You can use canonical tags with a sitemap to tell Google which is the primary version and which are duplicates.

The benefit of a website sitemap cannot be understated and is also quite clear. Who wouldn’t want a well-organised website with a high SEO ranking? That is what every website owner expects to happen.

Sitemaps are, therefore, a strategy to improve your website’s rank while keeping it somewhat organised so that search engines can index it more easily.

If you are concerned about how to create sitemaps, We can assure you that they are really simple to create and will greatly improve your website. Therefore, there is no harm in making an effort or hiring a reputable SEO agency in Melbourne to assist you in creating one for your website.

Why Sitemaps Matter in SEO?

Search engine optimisation is the process of raising the ranking of your website in search engine results. Combining several strategies, such as keyword optimisation, content marketing, link building, and site architectural optimisation, will help you achieve this.  

It matters that you boost your chances of ranking for particular keywords by judiciously combining several SEO tactics.

Although your sitemap may indicate to search engines which pages on your website are the most crucial, you still need to provide valuable, SEO-friendly content, use pertinent keywords in the page title and headers, and so on. 

Therefore, while having an updated sitemap is extremely beneficial and essential for excellent SEO strategies, be aware that it cannot stand alone.

Different Types of Sitemaps

There are basically two types of sitemaps, namely HTML (hypertext markup language, geared for humans) and XML (extensible markup language, geared for bots) sitemaps. Let us understand the importance of them both.

HTML Sitemaps

An HTML sitemap is a real webpage that is visible to visitors and contains a list of links that may be clicked to access every page on your website. Although this is an ancient technique, it is still useful, especially for massive websites.

Google recommends HTML sitemaps because a hierarchical collection of links can help Google better determine what is most important and index content accordingly.

XML Sitemaps

A text file called an XML sitemap contains a list of all the URLs on your website. You may often find any website’s sitemap by visiting domainname.com/sitemap.xml, though you can alter this for site security reasons. The XML sitemaps of websites are visible but only intended for search engines, not for human users.

You can use tags in XML sitemaps to offer details about the URLs listed in them, such as the most recent modification date. You can also use Sitemap extensions to convey details about the content of news articles, images, and videos.

Here is a useful list of XML tag definitions provided by Sitemaps.org.

Other Types of Sitemaps

There are a few additional sitemap types to be aware of:

  • RSS Feeds – The sitemap URL for news websites or blogs that post many articles daily can be an RSS, mRSS (media RSS), or Atom 1.0 feed. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that these sitemaps will only present data on current URLs.
  • Text Sitemaps – This is the most basic sitemap for small websites with fewer web pages.

Get Started on Your Sitemap with TopRankings

To summarise, there are no Google penalties for websites without sitemaps, yet there are advantages if your page qualifies.

Now the question is, which sitemap should you use, HTML or XML? The simple answer to this query is both. Put your cards on both types of sitemaps if you want to create a well-optimised, user-friendly website that makes it simple for search engines to crawl, index, and rank your pages.

Both HTML and XML have many advantages and a few drawbacks in comparison. Sitemaps won’t suddenly increase visitors or boost your organic search ranking. Still, they can help enhance the ability to crawl and your website’s user experience when combined with other SEO strategies. And eventually, this will improve your website’s ranking!

If you want to know more or need assistance creating a sitemap for your website, don’t hesitate to contact the team of SEO specialists at TopRankings. We would be happy to help you and your business website get the most out of your sitemap. Get your obligation-free chemistry call – contact us today!