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.

Upholsterer Case Study

Website for upholsterer

How Marketing Changed This Business | Marketing Case Study

BJ Upholstery based in Darlington is a traditional business that restores and reupholster antique soft furnishings.  Operated by a husband and wife team they have been in the reupholstery business for thirty years.

The Challenges

The established local customer base was reducing, general demand for reupholstery, repairs and restoring of antiques was reducing too.  A wider, more modern, targeted audience was required to promote the reupholstery and restoration services.

BJ Upholstery in Darlington

What We Do

First, we looked at the company website and the supporting social media. We ran a ‘Marketing Evaluation’ report that highlighted the company’s exposure online. They had very little exposure and the marketing message was weak. The new prospective customers required were online, engaging and chatting but they did not know BJ Upholstery existed. BJ Upholstery were well known in Darlington and narrowly showed in search results as an ‘antique reupholster’,  the ‘Marketing Evaluation’ report clearly showed where BJU was not showing well on-line and where the prospective customers were engaging.  This gave us the information we needed to build a marketing action plan.

We updated the website and created an easy to publish and search-friendly platform to work with.  We did not totally rebuild the website for a few reasons; we wanted to keep the costs down, it looked OK and the style ref elected the business accurately, a nice traditional upholstery workshop in a market town, a bit old fashioned but well established. We didn’t want to disturb the website image,  a modern generic-looking website would not fit.  The website looks like an old traditional upholstery workshop that is producing beautiful bespoke work – perfect. 

Next was to build the social profile; we added Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and started telling the BJ Upholstery story consistently.  Photos and descriptions of completed work is published regularly which is really interesting to see by prospective customers.  Previously completed beautifully upholstered items were never seen by anyone else than the team and the furniture owner.  Website SEO was boosted by optimising the website pages and adding rich content to attract the target customers.
Forever evolving, ongoing and flexing content in response to demand and requirements as the business evolves and changes.  

The Results

Inbound enquiries are at a historical high and the company is attracting the ‘perfect customer’.  The perfect customers are people who appreciate quality and don’t mind paying for the best service.  People from further afield have become customers.  At the time of writing two sofas are in the workshop from Gloucester, BJ Upholstery are producing jobs for interior designers, making bespoke sofas to order, upholstered a chair in football shirts and last year reupholstered a footstool in a potato sack for a customer in London.

BJ Upholstery travel to the Yorkshire Dales, York, Harrogate, Newcastle as well as the surrounding area of Darlington and Durham.  Furniture can be shipped to the Darlington workshop and collected at completion. 

Digital Marketing can be overused and misunderstood.  Digital Marketing is simply your story and what you offer shared and reflected in the public domain, on the Internet, which is a digital environment. 

More Information

Learn More about our ‘Marketing Evaluation’ from Zedcomms.com.  See BJ Upholstery’s website

Zedcomms are a leading business development consultancy specialising in Website Design and Internet Marketing along with onsite training and ongoing mentor support.

Jo Griffiths | BJ Upholstery