When it comes to SEO and its techniques, there are so many methods of optimizing a website. These methods include on page SEO, back links etc. However there is an important SEO element that most people tend to overlook while optimizing their website – that is Sitemaps.
Just like its name, Sitemaps represents the entire structure of your website including its sections and links. Sitemaps refers to a map showing all the details of your site and makes navigation much more convenient.
Updating your Sitemaps helps rank better on search engines. It also helps your users understand your website better. Just like you use robots.txt to show search engines the part of your site you do not want to be indexed, Sitemaps direct search engines to the sections you would want them to find.
Sitemaps have always been an important aspect of web design with many advantages. Ever since search engines started using it as one of their ranking factors, it has become even more important.
Types of Sitemaps
There are two main types of Sitemaps; the normal HTML Sitemaps suitable for human visitors and Google XML format Sitemaps suitable for crawlers. If you are interested in optimizing your website, you need to incorporate both Sitemaps.
Although Yahoo and MSN use the HTML but not Google. You might be asking yourself why you need to have two Sitemaps and if it’s actually necessary.
It is important to have two Sitemaps because one of the Sitemaps (HTML format) is necessary for your human visitors. While the other is important for spiders (Google bots) which would help your website to rank better on search engine. Having 2 Sitemaps would not affect your website in any way since Google stipulates that addition of Sitemaps to your site would never lead to penalty.
Benefits of using Sitemaps
Sitemaps offers so many benefits apart from helping your site to be more visible on search engines. It helps search engines to notice any changes made to your site more quickly and faster.
By notifying search engines, it helps your changed pages to be indexed again. Even though the indexing might not happen immediately, it would be indexed faster than when your site lacks a Sitemap.
Sitemaps also helps to make your site visible to search engines without necessarily using external links. It could also help in fixing broken internal links but you should not depend fully on a Sitemap to fix such for you.
After you submit your Sitemap to search engines, your site would be accessible. So, you don’t need external links to get noticed on search engines.
Having a Sitemap before building your website helps to organize your site before its creation. This is very handy since you include all the sections and parts of your site in the Sitemap, thus helping your site designer to understand your site better as well as the number of pages you want.
Also, Sitemaps helps you learn more about your visitors and fix any error on your site quicker. You can enhance your site’s Content which would attract more visitors for you by using the information displayed on the sitemap.
Why do you need Sitemap?
If you’ve just gotten a new website or you updated, added new things to few pages on your site, then using sitemap can help your website grow more quickly.
Even though you could still have your website without a Sitemap since crawlers still index sites according to the normal indexing procedures, it is very likely that Sitemaps would soon become an important and vital method of bringing your site closer to crawlers and Google bots.
Even though search engines does not categorize a page to a particular keyword so easily, Sitemaps could help your site look more organized. Hence increasing the rate at which search engines rank your site pages.
In as much as most search engines do not fully use Sitemaps as one of their ranking factors since it’s still developing and using Sitemap might not get you all the benefits immediately. Most likely sites would be indexed faster due to Sitemaps as time goes.
Creating and submitting Sitemap
Getting a Sitemap for your website is very simple with easy steps. All you need to do is to create it, upload it and then submit it to Google.
There are two methods of generating a Sitemap. The first method is by downloading and installing a Sitemap generator, while the second method is by using online Sitemap tool to generate your Sitemap. Choosing a particular method of sitemap generation depends on your level of technical knowledge.
First Method of Creating Sitemap
The first method allows you to have to control the output though it is generally difficult. Read and follow the instructions on installation and configuration after downloading the application. However, to make use of this Sitemap generator, you must have python 2.2 installed on your web server since the package is a python script.
Second Method of Creating Sitemap
The second method is much simpler, all you need to do is to research some free online tools and choose the perfect one for your Sitemap. You could also check out Third party sitemap tools. There you would find list of various online Sitemap generating tools, plugins etc.
Google clearly stated that none of the tools in the list has been tested or verified but it could help you to get some of the things you need.
After generating your Sitemap, the next thing is to upload it to your website. You need to add the site to your Google Sitemaps account to inform Google about your Sitemap. Then it would tell Google that your website has a Sitemap. Also before adding the Sitemap to your Google Sitemap account, you would go through certain steps so to ascertain that you own the website. If eventually you do not have an active account with Google, then you should create a new account before adding the Sitemap.
The easy way
In case you would not want go through the hassle to manage Sitemaps or your website and its configuration yourself Excale can help you to focus on your business while we take care of your Website end to end