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What is Sitemap? – How To Create, Types And Benefits

5 min read

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Most people are familiar with sitemaps in the context of websites. A sitemap is simply a listing of all the pages and content on a website. This list can be used by both visitors and search engines to navigate the site.

Search engines also use sitemaps to help them crawl and index websites. By submitting it to a search engine, webmasters can ensure that all of the site’s pages are properly indexed. This can be especially important for websites with a lot of dynamic or newly-added content.

Sitemap Structure

Sitemaps are typically structured in one of two ways: as a hierarchical list or as a flat list. Hierarchical maps are organized like an outline, with the home page at the top and subsequent pages listed beneath it in a hierarchical fashion. Flat maps, on the other hand, simply list all of the pages on a site without any sort of organizational structure.

Both types of sitemaps can be helpful in different ways. Hierarchical sitemaps can make it easier for visitors to find what they’re looking for on a website, while flat sitemaps offer a more comprehensive view of all the site’s content.

When used correctly, these can be a valuable asset for both website visitors and search engines. So if you’re not already using one, be sure to create it for your website today!

How to Create a Sitemap?

Sitemaps can be created manually or generated automatically using a variety of tools. Once created, they can be submitted to search engines via their respective webmaster tools portals. There are two ways to create a sitemap: manually or using a tool.

Create Sitemap Manually

If you choose to create a sitemap manually, you’ll need to follow the given steps for each type of sitemap (HTML and XML).

Step 1- Review the Structure of Website Pages

Example of a basic Sitemap

This is a basic example of planning a structure for your website’s sitemap. In this the first root page will be the home page of the website and it will further be linked to the main categories of the website that will to the subcategory or product pages of the website.

According to Search Engine Journal, a good sitemap is one which has a shallow depth. It should not take more that 3 clicks to navigate to any page of a website. For SEO purposes, maintaining a logical hierarchy of web pages is important.

Step 2- Coding

Now as f you have prepared the structure of the sitemap, it is importance to make it live through accurate coding. Code each URL with XML tags. You can start XML coding through any text editor say sublime text or more. Text editors can make your coding experience much easier but still you need to be aware. You need to add the corresponding code for each URL-

  •      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>
  •      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
  •      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
  •      <priority>0.8</priority>

Just be sure to update the <loc>, <lastmod>, <changefreq>, and <priority> values for each page accordingly.

For an instance in the above code:

  • URL is http://www.example.com/
  • Last Modification date is 2005-01-01
  • Changed Frequency- monthly
  • Priority of the page is 0.8
sublime text editor for sitemap

Step 3- Code Validation

It is possible that as a coder you can commit some errors while coding. But you can’t afford errors in sitemap coding in order to ensure the rankings in search engine result pages (SERP) through regular crawlability. For this, we recommend you to use sitemap code validators. These validators will check the syntax. Some of highly used sitemap code validators are XML-Sitemaps, website planet and more.

sitemap code validator

Step 4- Add Sitemap to your website

Add the sitemap to the root folder of your website. This will add a additional page to a website which you can access by adding

example.com/sitemap.xml

Here’s an example of how SEO Seekho sitemap looks like-

seoseekho sitemap example
Sitemap of SEO Seekho Website

Step 5- Submit your Sitemap

Last step, to make your website recognizable to search engine is submitting your sitemap. One easy way to do so is through Google Search Console. Directly head towards the Google Search Console of your website and click on sitemap options.

how to submit sitemap with google search console

Now click on add sitemap on the screen.

After successful submission of the sitemap the status will be updated to SUCCESS which indicates that your site pages are successfully crawled and are discoverable in search engine.

With the use of Sitemap Generators

If you’d prefer not to create it manually, there are a number of tools that can help. Google offers a free tool called the Sitemap Generator, which can be used to create both HTML and XML sitemaps. Other popular sitemap generators include xml-sitemaps.com and Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider.

Sitemap Benefits for a Website-

There are a number of benefits to having it for your website:

  • These can help ensure that all of the pages on your website are properly indexed.
  • It can be a valuable asset for both website visitors and search engines.
  • It can help ensure that your latest articles are properly indexed by search engines.
  • These can help to ensure that whether your mobile site is properly indexed by search engines.

Types of Sitemap

Following are the types of sitemap:

1. HTML sitemap:

This is a page on your website that lists all of the other pages on your site. These are typically used for navigation by humans, not search engines.

2. XML sitemap:

This is a file that contains a listing of all the pages on your site. XML sitemaps are designed for consumption by search engine crawlers and are therefore more useful for SEO purposes.

3. Image Sitemaps

In addition to pages, these can also include information about images on a website. Image sitemaps can help search engines find and index images that might otherwise be missed.

4. Video Sitemaps

These can help search engines find and index videos that might otherwise be missed.

5. News Sitemaps

These are a type of maps that are specifically designed for news websites. They can help ensure that your latest articles are properly indexed by search engines.

6. Geo Sitemaps

It is a type of XML sitemap that contain information about the physical location of a business or website.

7. Mobile Sitemaps

These are a type of XML sitemap that are specifically designed for mobile websites. They can help ensure that your mobile site is properly indexed by search engines.

How to submit a sitemap to search engines?

Once you’ve created your sitemap, you’ll need to submit it to the major search engines via their respective webmaster tools portals. Google, Bing, and Yandex all have free webmaster tools programs that you can use to submit your sitemaps.

It’s also a good idea to include a link to it in the <head> section of your home page. This will help search engines find it even if they don’t have access to your webmaster tools account.

<link rel=”sitemap” type=”application/xml” title=”Sitemap” href=”/sitemap.xml”>

The above code will tell search engines to look for it at http://example.com/sitemap.xml.

Which pages should be in your XML sitemap?

Your XML sitemap should include all of the pages on your website that you want search engines to index. This includes your home page, as well as any other important pages on your site. If you have a large website with thousands of pages, you can create multiple sitemaps and submit them to search engines via their respective webmaster tools portals.

Which pages to exclude?

There are a few types of pages that you’ll want to exclude:

  1. Pages that don’t add value for users: These are pages that don’t provide any real value for users, such as “thank you” pages or privacy policy pages.
  2. Pages that are difficult to navigate: These are pages that are hard for users to find or that require too many clicks to reach.
  3. Pages that are duplicate content: These are pages that contain the same or similar content as other pages on your site. including multiple versions of the same page (e.g., www vs. non-www).
  4. Pages that are blocked by robots.txt: These are pages that you’ve specifically told search engines not to crawl via the robots.txt file.

Conclusion

As of now, you know what a sitemap is and how to create it. Once you’ve created your sitemap, the next step is to submit it to search engines. This can be done via each engine’s respective webmaster tools portal. These can be an extremely valuable asset for both website visitors and search engines. So if you don’t already have one, be sure to create it for your site today!

Seo Seekho SEO Seekho is informational platform to get information on latest industry trends, digital marketing, SEO, content marketing and affiliate marketing industry. Stay Tuned for regular updates!

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