Sitemap

A Sitemap is a file that provides certain search engines with the necessary detailed information on the multiple varieties of content that a domain contains. Basically, sitemaps use a multitude of different systems which include organization, navigation, and labeling systems in order to help search engines have a more accurate and detailed compilation and indexing of websites.[1]

Sitemaps are closely related to SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since sitemaps help crawlers, which are programs that are designed to collect data and information from the content on a website, index a page. This means that sitemaps help owners of sites increase the flow of organic traffic towards their site.[2] Since most websites are not created with a sitemap on the get-go, having a sitemap will definitely give the owner an edge over his/her competitors. Technically, most search engine crawlers will eventually find and index your site with ease. But if your site is content-heavy and large, crawlers might find it harder to index these kinds of pages and sites.

A sitemap accomplishes these primary directives:[1:1]

  • It will create an extensive list of all the pages that are present within your site so crawlers (such as Googlebot) might be able to index your page with ease.
  • A sitemap uses a ‘metadata’ which is a process of contextualizing data from each page of your site. These data would then tell the crawlers how pages are organized and how these would be related to the other pages within the site.

Sitemaps are significant for a website because search engines will usually see sitemaps as a green light towards gaining data and information from your site. This means that having an extensive and comprehensive crawl, a term used for a program that collects data from various content pages on your website, will yield better search results. Having better results would then help bring in more traffic from visitors.

Functionality

Since sitemaps aren’t entirely necessary – especially when it comes to small websites that are easily indexed by crawlers, they have shown to be beneficial when it comes to the following types of sites:

  • Really large websites – These are usually e-commerce websites. If you have a very large website, one of the best course of action would be to split an index sitemap. A single sitemap can index up to a maximum of 50,000 links. This means that if your site is large enough to have 50,000 posts, then you will need two separate sitemaps.
  • Websites that only have few external links – These are websites that do not have a sufficient amount of links pointing towards the site that would warrant visibility. Having a sitemap will highlight your site to crawlers for indexing. This gives your site a good chance of getting indexed.
  • Websites that are content heavy – These are websites that usually stores and showcases different forms of content ranging from images, videos, documents, and other forms of content. (such as DeviantArt, Youtube, Imgur, Reddit)

Types

There are mainly two types of sitemaps:[3]

HTML

The primary intention of using HTML is to guide visitors in your domain which are usually shoppers. Mainly, HTML sitemaps are purposed to aid actual human users in identifying the pages of a site. This presents the pages and subpages of content in a bulleted list that make it easier for users to navigate a site.

XML

Exists to solely make sure that the links and URLs listed on a page are thoroughly discovered, indexed, and compiled extensively. However, XML sitemaps are restricted in performing these certain tasks:

  • Being able to submit a sitemap that is XML does not guarantee that your page or domain will become indexed and compiled by a crawler. Sitemaps are seen as recommendations that highlight the page and domain, this means that your chances will increase as you use sitemaps, but does not guarantee it being indexed.
  • XML sitemaps do not necessarily add authority to your page or domain. Unlike the HTML links that are on your page, the URLs which are listed on your XML sitemap does not pass through a link authority check. This means that this has a very minor effect when it comes to improving your SEO rankings.

XML Benefits

There are numerous advantages, especially when it comes to XML sitemaps since they pass more data through search engines.[4] This, in turn, leads to the following.

  • Highlights new URLs on your site for indexation. Imagine these sitemaps as signaling flares that will indicate to the crawlers which ones should be indexed. If your website is quite large, especially if it’s an E-commerce website, crawlers actually find it hard to index and compile new or updated pages. XML sitemaps will make this process easier and will definitely yield better results when It comes to traffic.
  • Crawlers will be able to categorize and understand your page and website easier – If you have numerous content pages that are on your domain that do not have are not well-linked, you can utilize an XML sitemap so that you can notify Google and other search engines about your pages. This is to make sure that your pages are not overlooked. Moreover, if your site contains a plethora of different media or even a varying amount of compatible sitemap annotations, an XML sitemap will keep into consideration the extra amount of information when necessary.
  • This will help boost your overall SEO score. If your site was just set up and is new while not really having enough links which are funneling traffic directly to your site, then the low amount of visibility would make crawlers overlook your site. In order to remedy this problem, you can use an XML sitemap to highlight your domain.
  • Crawlers will be able to set the appropriate priorities for your sites correctly – XML sitemaps also help you categorize your important pages through the use of tags. This helps tell the crawlers which pages they should be focusing on.

Owners of sites and pages should also consider having a separate sitemap that’s dedicated towards images. There is an extension for XML sitemaps that helps crawlers optimize their indexation when it comes to images. These crawlers that are going to identify the image contents that are on a certain site will help generate the traffic from the image results section of the search engine.


  1. https://www.a2hosting.com/blog/what-are-sitemaps/ ↩︎ ↩︎

  2. https://seo-hacker.com/sitemap-effects-seo-tutorial/ ↩︎

  3. https://www.oberlo.com/ecommerce-wiki/sitemap ↩︎

  4. https://yoast.com/what-is-an-xml-sitemap-and-why-should-you-have-one/ ↩︎