What are Sitemaps?

SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMISATION

A way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at.

Sitemaps are something most of our clients are not aware of. Sitemaps help search. Sitemaps are free and easy to add, they are simply a way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at to help make the search engine crawl (a robot clicking through your website) easy and accurate. They help produce a SERP Map too, a multi-link search engine result on Google and Bing.

A sitemap file is hidden from human visitors, but search engines like Google and Bing can see it.  The sitemap helps search engines easily see all the content on your site in one place.

Why do you need a sitemap?

Without one, the only way for those bots to find all your content is by following links on your site. So, if you have any pages on your site that aren’t linked to often, or it takes a lot of links to reach a certain page, there’s a chance that Google won’t find those pages and they’ll never end up in search results.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

Sitemaps are something most of our clients are not aware of. Sitemaps help search. Sitemaps are free and easy to add, they are simply a way to communicate with search engines to tell them which pages you want looking at to help make the search engine crawl (a robot clicking through your website) easy and accurate.  They help produce a ”SERP Map” too, a multi-link search engine result on Google and Bing.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters (the person who looks after your website) to inform search engines about pages on websites that are available for crawling.  In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.  So a more often updated website will be more attractive to search engines.

Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites.  Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata.

Using the XML Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides help for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.  XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It’s a markup language similar to HTML, but its main purpose is to organise data.

How to set up a site map

You can generate a site map from your host provider or admin panel.  WordPress for example provide a site map automatically now.  A site map link looks just like a website address with .xml on the end. Then submit it to a search engine.

WordPress provides a sitemap as standard now (5.5.1).   If you already use an SEO tool to boost your website traffic, no action required.