When users look up something on Google, they expect to find information on websites that matches the term or question that they had. The websites that are shown on results pages have been crawledby Google in order to find content that matches the user’s search. XML sitemaps help with SEO by making it easier for Google to find the pages on your website that you want to show up on search results.
How do XML sitemaps work?
As you begin to add more content to your website, you begin to create new pages within the same website. This makes it easier for users to find the information they are actually looking for. Sometimes, Google has a difficult time distinguishing pages from each other and can end up skipping over important information. An XML sitemap gives search engines like Google a list of URLs that you would like them to crawl through. Essentially, it is a guide to all the content on your website and it increases the chance that Google will discover a new page that had not previously been indexed.
Benefits of XML sitemaps
Besides search engines finding new pages to crawl through, XML sitemaps have a list of benefits for websites:
- Search engines use the metadata supplied in your sitemap. Information like how often a page is changed and the dates that content was modified can be used by sites like Google to crawl your website more efficiently.
- Registering your XML sitemap gives search engines indication of trust and authority signals. Additionally, if you register your sitemap with Google Search Console, they provide extra analytical insight on how your site is doing with issues like indexation, crawling, and more.
- Better crawling of websites can create better rankings in search results and greater internal link popularity.
Building an XML sitemap
The best method to build your XML sitemap is to use a sitemap generator. Sitemap generators will crawl your website, create a URL list, and build a sitemap for you. Once your sitemap is built, the generator can show you how to upload it to the domain root folder of your website and finally, add your sitemap to the Google Search Console. Use sitemap generators like XML-Sitemaps.com and Sitemaps Pal.
Additional Elements to Consider in your sitemap
After listing all the URLs that you want to feature, make sure to think about other ways you can optimize your SEO:
- Mobile sitemaps: Mobile information should be separate then your desktop sitemap. Use a XHTML mobile profile so that Google can differentiate between files.
- Video sitemaps: Use the videos on your website to increase your SEO. Include information about your videos within your XML sitemap file to increase the ways in which users can find you.
- Image sitemaps: Similarly to video sitemaps, image sitemaps can also boost your SEO. You can list up to 1,000 images that appear on each URL that you list on your XML sitemap file.
Managing an XML Sitemap
After uploading your XML sitemap in Google Search Console. Websites should be constantly monitoring their results over time. When you need to add information or delete pages, make sure to update your XML sitemap file so that search engines can continue to crawl your page efficiently.
If there is a large number of pages that have to be added or deleted, websites should consider having their developer build the ability for your sitemap to regenerate on a regular basis through automated scripts. This can help you save time and hassle from having to manually update your XML sitemap file.
Create your own XML sitemap
Now that you understand how XML sitemaps can boost your SEO, its your turn to put it into action. Analyze the content in your own website and find the information that you want to be featured. Follow the steps provided in this article and enjoy the results.