What is an XML sitemap?
In simple terms, it’s a list of a website’s URLs. That’s why it’s called a sitemap. It maps out how the website is structured and what the website includes.
(“XML” stands for “Extensible Markup Language,” a way of displaying information on websites.) That’s what an XML sitemap is, but why should you even have one? What’s the purpose?
An XML sitemap works, essentially, as a table of contents for your website, allowing the crawler to get the essentials and index your site accordingly.
A well-structured sitemap can do even more, however. Sitemaps can tell search engines when a page was updated, the frequency of updates to the page, the relative importance of pages within a website, and how to find and index content that may be found deep within the site’s structure.
Benefits of Sitemap
- The XML sitemap helps to overcome the limitations of a website with weak internal linking.
- It helps to overcome the challenge of not yet having a strong external link profile.
- It helps extremely large sites gain better and more organized indexation.
- It helps Google crawl your website in a more effective way.
- It tells Google how important your content is.
- It helps your website instantly gain indexation for dynamically-generated pages.
- It shows Google all the pages on your website, even if they are deep within the architecture and might not otherwise be crawled as quickly.
- It tells Google to crawl and index your website.
- It tells Google what to crawl on your website.
- It tells Google what kind of information is on your website.
- It tells Google when your content was updated (which could result in more favorable or “fresh” rankings).
- It tells Google how often your content is updated.
There are three things you have to do:
- Create your XML sitemap.
- Add your XML sitemap to your website.
- Submit your XML sitemap to Google.