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What is a sitemap and is it helping your SEO?

You’ve likely heard it before: SEO is a vital component to drawing visitors to your website.

And while there are a number of tools and methods to improve your search engine optimization, the sitemap is one of the least understood.

What is a sitemap?

Think of a sitemap as an invitation for search engines to crawl and index your website pages so that they’ll be easier to find.

A sitemap is a file that offers search engines detailed information about the pages and content on your website. It is organized with navigation and labeling systems to help engines like Google crawl your site.

It’s important to note that there’s no guarantee that a sitemap will result in a page indexation. Again, think of it as an invitation — it’s worth doing, but there’s no guarantee that it will be accepted. 

Also of note: The HTML links in your sitemap do not improve your rankings like the HTML links on your actual website do.

There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML.

HTML sitemaps essentially guide shoppers, while XML sitemaps are focused on helping websites get found and indexed by search engines.

Does a sitemap help your SEO?

Yes, a sitemap can definitely help boost your SEO.

Because a sitemap helps serve more data to search engines, it increases the likelihood of your website being found (which is the goal). 

This is especially true for newer websites that might not have many links pointing to them yet.

A sitemap can also help search engine crawlers:

  • Find and index new URLs on your site, particularly if you have a very large website (such as an eCommerce site). Crawlers typically have a harder time on large eCommerce sites.
  • Understand your content more. This is great for when you have a lot of content pages that don’t link to each other.
  • Prioritize your webpages the right way because you can add tags in your sitemap that communicate what should be viewed first.

Any sitemap tools out there that can help?

There definitely are! Here are just a handful to help you get started:

How do I submit my sitemap?

Sitemaps don’t just float around on the internet. In order to submit your sitemap to Google, you’ll basically be using the Google Search Console.

You’ll want to select your site. Then, click Sitemaps on the left-side menu. Type “sitemap.xml” in the text field next to your domain, and click Submit.

Of course, if you make any changes to your website in the future (which is totally likely), you will want to update your sitemap. Re-submit the sitemap that lists the URL for that page instead of your entire Sitemap Index. 

Fortunately, Google has a great walkthrough of the recommended creation and submission process.

No matter how your sitemap turns out, remember that the webpages on a great website should be either utility-based (useful to your users) or high-quality search landing pages (such as valuable blog content). The sitemap itself is helpful for your SEO, but it won’t save your website if the content is all wrong.

Looking for a little more SEO help? Don’t miss these “down and dirty” SEO tips and tricks for business owners, or contact one of our marketing specialists today.

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