A sitemap or an XML file is a search engine optimization element that often remains underestimated. The purpose of a sitemap, however, is to speed up the indexing of a website and to ensure its good positioning among search engine results.

Sitemaps are very easy to create and this fact, combined with the results, determines the importance and the efficiency of this SEO component.

What is a Sitemap?

SiteMap GeneratorAn XML sitemap is a navigational tool that search engine crawlers use to index all of the website pages. The purpose of a sitemap is to provide access to every bit of content available on the website. This way, it speeds up the appearance of all the pages and texts among search engine results.

This list of pages is easy to generate and it contributes significantly to the optimization of a web project, especially of a new website. Search engine crawlers need some time to access and index all of the pages. The sitemap gives them the information that the search engines use to go through the entire website.

Webmasters Benefit from Sitemaps, as Well

The purpose of a sitemap is to assist the work of the webmaster, as well. After the webmaster generates an XML sitemap, that person will get a clear understanding of the website’s structure.

This information can be used to improve the navigation, to add more content or to divide the menu in better categories and sub-topics. A clear and easy to use website structure is important both for search engines and for website visitors. Overly complicated structure will discourage people from exploring and having too few elements will affect SEO negatively.

Search Engines Like XML Sitemaps

When creating a sitemap, keep a number of specifics in mind. The purpose of a sitemap will be determining for the best format selection.

Search engine crawlers prefer XML files. To make this file easy to find and to scan, add it to the website’s root directory. The sitemap should be updated frequently to give search engine crawlers access to the newest additions to the website’s hierarchy.

A sitemap that is generated for the needs of the website audience should have a slightly different appearance. Such a page added to the website will encourage people to explore more pages. Navigation links are of uttermost importance because they allow people to click on the topics of interest and go to the specific page.

Google’s Changing Rules and Sitemaps

Major search engines like Google change their website ranking algorithms all the time to prevent blackhat SEO techniques from being implemented. The sitemap, however, has remained an important factor for search engine success.

Google Hummingbird LogoFor best results and to achieve the purpose of a sitemap, create a Google Webmaster Tools account. Verify your website and submit the sitemap there. If you change the content and the structure of the website frequently, submit new sitemaps on a regular basis. The new sitemaps should contain solely the latest links.

There are various third-party tools that generate an XML sitemap for you. Make sure that the file contains all of the essential information. Google and other major search engines have some requirements concerning the size of the file, the text included in it and the functionality of the links. The outcome should correspond to all of these requirements.

As simple as it is to generate, a sitemap will assist both your SEO efforts and your attempts to improve the structure of the website. This optimization technique will deliver results and giving it a try is certainly worth it.

William Hooey

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