What is a Sitemap and How Does It Interfere with Site SEO?

Marketing

If you have been following Chili’s blog you may already know what SEO is and how local SEO works. Today we’re going to explain what the sitemap of a website is and how it interferes with SEO. You don’t need to have an MIT degree to understand what is a sitemap for. We’ve asked Chili’s experts to explain to us how all this works and this is what they said. Let’s start.

 

What is a Sitemap and Why is It Important?

A sitemap is the structure of pages within a website. It acts as a blueprint listing the pages inside a unique domain. It serves for search engines (such as Google’s) to find, classify and index a website’s content.

There are different types of sitemaps. The most used are XML sitemaps. Now you may say: “Yes, well, but what is a sitemap XML?” Good question, indeed. 

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language. It’s a metalanguage used for storing and transporting data. Check this XML stored message, for instance:

<note>

  <to>John</to>

  <from>Hannah</from>

  <heading>Hi</heading>

  <body>Hey there, I’ll be there next week. Let’s have coffee!</body>

</note>

 

Alright, but why to create a Sitemap? This is a legitimate question. And another one: Can I just optimize my website for SEO without a Sitemap? Of course, you can. But sitemaps can boost your website’s indexation, especially if it’s a heavy site that is not deeply indexed by web crawlers.

Sitemaps are also quite useful for websites with a great amount of content pages that are not well linked to each other or even if you haven’t much external links directing to your website (because it’s a new site, for instance). Sitemaps may help your website appear on Google’s field of view.

Also, if your site has many quality content, Google can use it and display it on users’ organic searches of images, videos and news. Not having a sitemap is neglecting this opportunity.

 

What Types of Sitemaps There Are?

The four main types of sitemaps are:

XML Sitemap

It’s the organising structure of a website, listing its pages and their links.

Video Sitemap

It’s specifically used to make Google or any other search engine understand what a website’s video is about. It also makes these contents easier to find.

Image Sitemap

The same as videos, but with images.

News Sitemap

It helps search engines to find, classify and display approved newsy content. As you may have noticed, it’s specifically important for news websites.

As Google owns the biggest share of the market, SEO techniques are often orientated for its engine. So, what is a supported sitemap format for Google? The Silicon Valley gyant likes websites to be structured with a XML format instead of HTML. It also allows other formats and sub-formats, such as RSS or its own Google sites.

Properly linked websites are easier to find, read and classify. A sitemap improves the crawling of deeper or heavier websites and it’s quite useful for specialized contents.

Now we know what a sitemap is on a website. Let’s find out how to create one.

How to Create a Sitemap?

You probably already have a website. What you need is to optimize it in order to make it Google friendly and SEO optimized. So, how to do that? Firstly, you must analyze your existing website. Map the navigation routes from your Home page and keep track of every link in order to discover its structure.

Now, what is a sitemap in SEO? Does it change anything? Well, yes. Bearing in mind the need of a SEO strategy, you should be aware of the risk of having a very deep web linking. It means that contents far away from your Home page are harder to rank. In terms of user experience, less clicks means better ranking.

No more than three levels of content are recommended, for instance: Services (Home) – SEO (second level) – Local SEO (third level).

Another thing you should bear in mind is URL optimization.. You must format your website’s URLs with XML tagging

Each URL must have XML codes such as location, last modification, the frequency of changes and the page’s priority. There are useful tools, such as Sublime Text, for doing this.

You can also verify what you have done to make sure that you haven’t typed wrongly. There’re many softwares out there, just like XML Validation.

An extra recommendation: add your sitemap file to the root folder of your website. Inside the same folder, add your sitemap to the robots.txt file.

Both of these actions will help your website to index better. But now, how to launch it? Go to Google Search Console and click on Crawl and then on Sitemaps. There you’ll have the option of adding or testing a sitemap. Once you click on Submit, it’s done. It’s in Google’s hands now.

 

The Importance of Sitemaps on SEO

As we have explained, sitemaps are very helpful for search engine optimization. There are many free tools for creating a sitemap. The Yoast plugin, for instance, works especially well on WordPress sites. If you are looking for a wider range of options, you may want to try a platform like Screaming Fog.

Sooner or later, most digital marketers shall embrace sitemaps as a key component of a well-planned SEO strategy. In a highly-competitive eCommerce era, being easily findible within this digital sea of advertisement is crucial for surviving and thriving in the market today.

All this programming stuff sometimes gets a little confusing. Luckily there are experts out there that dedicate their lives to digital marketing and SEO. Take Chili’s team for instance.

It’s OK not knowing how to program. If you want to have a sitemap for your website or at least understand how it would be, just ask Chili’s professionals by clicking here.

What do you think about Sitemaps and SEO? Do you use any of the tools we’ve recommended? Would you like to add another one? Let us know in the comments.