Something that you’re likely to come across in researching SEO is sitemaps. Sitemaps aren’t the biggest part of SEO, and you’ll want to focus your efforts on other aspects first. But they are crucial for getting search engines to index your website and show your pages in searches.
So as we get towards the end of this introductory series on SEO, I want to talk about one thing you might see in your SEO research: sitemaps.
Sitemaps really aren’t a glamorous part of SEO. And really, there’s legitimate discussion really about how much they factor into the SEO equation.
But they can give you a little bit of an SEO boost, and maybe that’s the thing that puts you over the top.
So today, let’s talk about what sitemaps actually are, why they matter for SEO and how you can get going with sitemaps.
What are sitemaps
So in the simplest of terms, a sitemap is a simple listing of the pages on your website. And it’s usually created in XML, or Extensible Markup Language, and that’s the perfect language for search engine crawlers to read and understand.
Once you submit a sitemap, the search engine crawlers will go through the sitemap to each of those pages, but it will happen at their own pace. Just because you submit a sitemap doesn’t mean it gets indexed right away.
This allows you to assist those crawlers in finding really hard to find pages, such as ones that are buried on the website or are orphaned and don’t have any links to them and change often.
And when you submit a sitemap to a place like Google, you’re telling the search engine that these pages are very important for your website.
Why sitemaps matter for SEO
Now there is some debate about how much it really really matters to SEO. And to be honest, I think that while it’s something that’s really nice to have for your SEO efforts, it should be kind of lower on the priority list.
But there are at least some SEO benefits. First off, if you have a really really big website, and I’m talking over 50 pages and over like 100 posts, then yes, it can help Google and those other search engines to really index your website and get your content showing up in searches.
Second, if you haven’t done a good job with your internal linking, and you have a lot of posts and pages that don’t have internal links to them, then yes, sitemaps submitted to search engines will really help them find that content and index it. Also, if you don’t have a lot of backlinks to your content, this can help as well.
So there are benefits, but again, it should kind of be down on the priority list with SEO.
How to create sitemaps
Now creating a sitemap and submitting it to search engines can be a little bit tricky, but for the most part it’s pretty easy. First you’ll want to create an XML sitemap. Theoretically you could do this by hand in code, but really there are a number of tools that can do this for you. I’ve left a list of them down in the description below for you to try out. If you use WordPress there are a number plugins like Google XML Sitemap and Yoast SEO that will build the sitemaps for you.
Once you have those XML sitemaps, you’ll need to submit them to Google through Google Search Console. This is something I’ll cover more in depth in an upcoming series, but you will need to create an account for this. Once you do have your account, you’ll just go into site maps and submit it. Simple as that.
Now you just wait for Google to search and index your website site.
So that’s it for today with sitemaps. As always, I’ve left links to outside resources and LinkedIn learning videos so that you can do more research on your own and come up with your own solution.
We’re nearing the end of this sort of high-level overview of SEO, and next time we’ll be talking about how you can track your SEO efforts so that you can figure out if you’re doing something right or not.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about sitemaps or SEO in general, please be sure to leave them down in the comments below or you can always reach out on social media.
But until next time, I wish you and your business the best of luck.