Welcome back, Reader! Or if you’re new here, welcome in! I am Zane, a beginner in SEO chronicling my journey through it. Today we discuss some low hanging fruit and something easy to check, but ultimately important: XML Sitemaps.
If you missed the first installment of this series, you can find it here. It details why I am discussing what I am discussing. That being said, this is not necessarily a tutorial about the creation of sitemaps. I will link below Ahref’s resource on doing such. This is truly about discussing why it’s important and how to go about making sure you or a client have one submitted, if it’s even worth your time or energy.
Now, sitemaps have a few different derivitives, but we are going to focus on XML which is the one most pertaining to SEO, and created for search enginge crawling purposes. This one is going to be short, there isn’t much to discuss other than understanding the importance of this in the context of a client and the ease with which it can be produced.
What is an XML Sitemap?
A sitemap is exactly as it sound. A map of the structure of any given website. It is an amalgamated list, submitted through your Google Search Console, that indicates every page you would like Google to index. It’s not to be confused with an HTML sitemap, which is how your website is structured for people and refers to your overall navigation.
Why are XML Sitemaps Important and When Is It Useful?
If your site is set up correctly and has been around long enough to accrue a good amount of backlinks, a sitemap isn’t all that helpful and might not even be necessary. Google does a really good job of indexing things that are accessible (which we would hope, they’ve been doing this for years!) However, a sitemap is incredibly helpful in a couple different instances:
- Your site is literally gigantic – If you have 1000’s of webpages, it’s not hard for things to slip through the cracks of Google. If your site structure changes, and a webpage exists, but doesn’t have a link in your site to it, but still want it to be indexed, having it in the sitemap is helpful.
- As mentioned before, newer websites who don’t have the linking schema strength or an abundance of backlinks also benefit. This way you can literally inform Google that these webpages exist and it doesn’t have to struggle to find them, if it can’t. This way, it has that information at its metaphoric fingertips!
- If you (or your client) are constantly adding web pages, telling Google that they exist allows them to be indexed immediately and without issue. You can trust Google to do lots of things, but it has a lot of work on its hands, so it always benefits to make its life easier.
How to Check if an XML Sitemap has been Submitted
This is, thankfully, a VERY easy thing to do. A sitemap normally exists within a root directory of your domain name, which means you can usually type “www.yourdomainname.com/sitemap.xml”. The result will be a bunch of code, which is what an xml sitemap looks like. From there it will let you know if something has been submitted. If you have access to the website’s Google Console, you can also plainly see if somethign has been submitted. This way you can make the suggestion to implement one.
Resources for the Creation of Site Maps
There are a number of ways to create sitemaps overall. Plenty of addons exist through WordPress or other website hosting services that can do it for you, if you should choose. However, some good options are listed and deatiled in Ahref’s guide. Ahref’s is a leading expert in the SEO space and they offer a huge and comprehensive guide on how to create and submit sitemaps given a number of different situations and through different methods.
Thanks for stopping by, hope this was useful for you given your needs or questions. As per always, PLEASE feel free to ask more questions in the comments. I would love to be able to do some of the heavy lifting in your SEO journey, if I can. With that, happy holidays and new year! See you in 2023!