SEO. You probably already came across this acronym when searching for ways to do Internet marketing, right?
Basically, Searching Engine Optimization consists of a series of techniques to achieve good positions in the results of search engines. Mainly Google, responsible for much of the internet traffic.
Keywords, link building, scannability, loading time, responsive design. All of these are very important ranking factors to conquer the long-awaited top of the results page.
However, there is another very important element that is often neglected by administrators: the sitemap.
Don’t you know what it is? Then you are in the right place. In this article, you’ll learn what it is and why you should create your own right now. Keep reading and learn all about this important resource!
But first, what is the sitemap?
You have probably already used hierarchical organograms when writing a text in Word, right? So, a sitemap works more or less like this, but instead of drawings, other forms of addressing are used.
As the name itself says, it is a map of your website. It contains the information that indicates the correct path to be followed by the crawler.
A crawler is a robot that searches the internet locating relevant pages for each search. In this case, the GoogleBot.
Consider the following situation: a miner needs to explore a gold mine that he has never been to before. However, before that, he will have to dig and find out every corner to, in the end, find what he is looking for. But if someone gives you a map, everything will be easier, right?
This is exactly the function of the sitemap: to help in the work of the Google robot. This will make indexing processes faster and more efficient. Both crawl time and page load time will become faster.
This information is stored on the server where the website is hosted and reveals the entire structure, like an index, optimizing the efficiency of the search engine. Google thanks you and you can get faster and more accurate results.
A sitemap contains the main URLs of a website, that is, those that will be read in priority order. Information regarding the hierarchy, link architecture and updates is also contained.
They can be conversion pages, blog posts or tabs. In short, it is necessary to privilege those that you consider really important for your business.
But, in the end, what are the benefits?
In SEO, one of the main techniques is link building. That is, references on other pages that redirect the user to your website.
When a page doesn’t get many inbound links, it can go unnoticed by the bot. Therefore, it is necessary to indicate it to Google, which will make it easier for it to recognize it and position it in the search results.
In addition, the use of dates indicates the update of content. Thus, they will be reread by the crawler. This technique of restructuring and extension of content is widely used to try to improve the ranking of the pages.
Google also gives priority to site administrators who help the bot in reading, this being a recommended practice and rewarded by the search engine.
In what situations should a sitemap be used?
The creation of a sitemap is recommended for any blog or website, as it facilitates the indexing process and reveals a concern on the part of the webmaster. Google is basically a business partner, so you also need to help them so that there is reciprocity.
However, there are some specific situations where the sitemap is essential. Find out what some of them are:
Sites with dynamic content
When the content of a site receives various updates or new posts on a regular basis, a sitemap is essential. Some examples are large news portals, corporate blogs with a focus on SEO and virtual stores, which are left at the mercy of the stock on their product pages.
Sites with difficulty for a good positioning
Some pages have difficulty achieving good positioning. This can be caused by a number of factors, such as content in Ajax, Flash, or built on Wix languages.
Websites that were created recently do not yet have a high domain authority. Because of this, it may take Google longer to crawl internal pages. In this case a sitemap can speed up this process.
Sites without link building
When there are not many inbound links for a website, the crawler may consider it irrelevant. Therefore, to increase the chances of appearing on Google, it is recommended to use a sitemap.
What are the formats of a sitemap?
When you go to a mall, there is usually a map indicating the location of each of the stores and their respective floors. This is similar to a sitemap, but Googlebot cannot read the information in a graphical format.
That is why there are different models. Find out what they are below:
The most used format on the web is XLM. It consists of a list of URLs formatted in a coded language, specially targeted for SEO optimization. It can be created manually or with the help of specific tools. It also adds images and videos.
The TXT format is simpler, but neglects some important information, such as the URL’s modification date and page organization. Basically it is a text that can be composed in a simple editor, such as Word or Notepad.
Atom-RSS is widely used in blogs. In it, the news section itself works like a sitemap, but takes into account the publication date as a priority factor. They work in a similar way to a content aggregator in which the user can register.
A site created through Google Sites will have a sitemap created automatically, however, it is necessary to submit it to have information about the reports.
What are the types of sitemap?
As the internet is an atmosphere that offers ample opportunities, there are various types of businesses. Because of this, many times websites will need different types of sitemaps, making the sitemap even more specific.
Have you already noticed that in the search engine itself there are tabs “Images” “Videos” and “News” below the search box? This optimization is done through specific sitemaps, which can be embedded in the same file or in separate files.
Discover, below, what are some characteristics of each type of sitemap:
Many websites focus on the visual aspect. This is the case of image banks, portfolios of photographers and illustrators and even some e-commerce.
An image sitemap does the same thing, but the quoted URLs will be directed to photos. This resource is very important for businesses that want to appear at the top of Google Images.
Videos are high on the digital atmosphere. Thanks to that, it is very important to position them well in the search mechanisms.
Many times Googlebot ends up neglecting this content format, so making a sitemap is a good idea. It must contain information such as description, duration time and the thumbnail (thumbnail).
Another type of sitemap is the news sitemap. If you invest in this type of media, you will surely need a sitemap of this type, since it takes into account the news section of the blog.
In addition to the sitemap, it will be necessary to follow some steps and request the inclusion of the article through the Google News Publisher Central.
How to create a sitemap?
Sitemaps can be created manually, but some formats require a certain depth of study, such as XML markup.
There are various platforms that help in the process. If your website was created in WordPress, there are some plugins that can do this task simply and quickly, such as Better WordPress Google XLM Sitemaps or his own Yoast SEOalready used by many webmasters.
Another option is software. GSiteCrawlera crawler simulator that analyzes the website and automatically creates the sitemap.
How to submit a sitemap.xml to Google?
After you create your sitemap, you need to report it to Google and make it crawlable. There are two ways for that:
Google Search Console: just access the “Tracking” tab, click on “Sitemap” and “Add/Track Sitemap” on the red button in the upper right corner.
Robots.txt: just insert the following line in the text file where the sitemap was created, specifying the path:
Is there any extra recommendation to improve the results?
To improve the performance of your website, some practices related to the sitemap are recommended. Discover some of them below:
- Create multiple sitemaps for the different categories of the site.
- Even if the limit is 50 thousand URLs, try to keep that number under 10 thousand.
- Use canonical URLs, for example, www.yourwebsite.com. Avoid changes in the transfer protocol (https).
- Regularly visit Google Search Console to identify possible errors.
And so, did you like this article? Also discover what are the main Google penalties and learn how to prevent your website from losing positions in the search ranking!