WordPress SEO in 5 Minutes – What is a Sitemap?
The term “sitemap” might be familiar to many, but its function might not be clear. Sitemaps help search engines find your web pages and are one of the most important SEO elements. Since they are quite technical, it can be frustrating to learn about them all on your own. Well, our experts from Perth are here to help you. Here’s a quickie on all you need to know about sitemaps.
What is an XML sitemap?
The XML sitemap is a file that displays a list of all the URLs that you want to be available to users. In other words, it is a list of URLs in XML format that search engines can easily crawl and index.
Also, it tells search engines which links need to be indexed, which ones need to be left out, how frequently you update the website and other information like the number of images and videos.
An XML sitemap is not a direct ranking factor, but it allows search engines to crawl your website better and faster. This helps in finding and showing your content faster and can further help in search results in the long run.
A Sitemap.xml file has a limit of 50,000 URLs. That is a good enough limit for most sites. If you need to include more than that, you can still do it. Have one master sitemap file that links to specific sitemaps. Each of these linked maps can further include 50,000 URLs.
What does a sitemap look like?
See below an example of a map created by the Yoast SEO plugin.
Why does your site need one?
Sitemaps ensure better crawlability in more than one way.
- Your content gets crawled and indexed faster.
- You can prioritize certain content over others by adding meta data.
- Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to get information on how effectively your pages are getting indexed.
- Most new websites or blogs won’t have backlinks which makes it harder for search engines to find all of their content. Submitting sitemaps to Google Search Console can solve this problem.
- Search engines can take additional information from sitemaps while indexing videos and images.
How to set up a sitemap?
Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console
Search engines can find a sitemap once it is created, but it is always better to submit it manually to Google Search Console. It is a free tool that lets you monitor your site’s performance in search results. After you have added and verified your account, you can submit it in the console. Once Google has crawled your site, you can see sitemap statistics. These include the number of pages that got indexed, number of links that Google found, when was the last update done, crawl errors and more. This information lets you correct any errors, which is preventing pages from getting indexed properly.
Hope you found this information useful. For more information on how to use it, Contact us today or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and speak to our WordPress experts from our web development team in Perth.
Crawling – It is the name given to the process by which Google search bots visit and analyse the content on a page. In simpler terms, crawling = visiting a site.
Indexing – Means that your page is eligible to display in SERPs. It is the collection of contents (found while crawling) to be displayed in SERPs.
Backlinks – Also known as inbound link or incoming links. When one website content mentions another site, and links to it, it is called a backlink.
Google Search Console– A free web tool from Google to monitor and maintain the performance of your site in Google Search Results.