A sitemap, or XML sitemap, is a list of different pages on a website. XML is short for “extensible markup language,” which is a way to display information on a site. Search engines like Google are committed to displaying the most relevant results to people for any given search query. In order to do this effectively, they use site crawlers to read, organize, and index information on the Internet. What sitemaps therefore do is that they make it easier for search engine crawlers to read the content on your site and index the pages accordingly. As a result, this increases your chances of boosting the SEO ranking of your website.
According to Google’s documentation, XML sitemaps are beneficial for “really-large websites”, for “websites with large archives”, for “new websites with just a few external links to it” and for “websites which use rich media content”. However, sitemaps are beneficial to every website; that’s why it is important you know how to create one.
There are basically four types of sitemaps:
– Normal XML Sitemap: This by far the most common type of sitemap. It’s usually in the form of an XML sitemap that links to different pages on your website.
– Video Sitemap: Used specifically to help Google understand video content on your page.
– News Sitemap: Helps Google find content on sites that are approved for Google News.
– Image Sitemap: Helps Google find all of the images hosted on your site.
To create a sitemap, it is best to use Yoast SEO as Yoast SEO creates an XML sitemap for your website automatically. All you have to do is: Click on ‘SEO’ in the sidebar of your WordPress install and then select the ‘Features’ tab. From there, you can enable or disable the different XML sitemaps for your website. Also, you can click on the question mark to expand the information and see more possibilities, like checking your sitemap in your browser. You can as well, exclude content types from your XML sitemap in the ‘Search Appearance’ tab. If you select ‘no’ as an answer to ‘show X in the search results?’ then this type of content won’t be included in it.
Aside Yoast SEO, there are lots of other plugins available for WordPress like Google XML Sitemaps that you can use to create a sitemap. And if you don’t use WordPress, you can use a third-party sitemap generator tool like XML-Sitemaps.com. These will spit out an XML file that you can use as your sitemap.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, the next thing is to do is to submit your sitemap login to your Google Search Console account. To do this, you should:
– Login to Google Search Console and select your website
– On the left, click “Crawl” and then click “Sitemaps”
– Click “Add/Test Sitemap” then enter “sitemap_index.xml”
– Hit “Submit”
And you’re good to go!