A sitemap is a link between your website and search engines. It is the map about the pages in your website that Google crawlers communicate with.When it comes to marketing and SEO, easy and fast is the way many prefer to go, but if you put in a little effort, the results can be rewarding. There are SEO tactics out there that give high value for the little amount of effort you put in. Creating an XML Sitemap is one such technique we’ll be sharing in this article.
You might be getting uncomfortable about "XML", but it isn’t as technical as it looks. It is not a code-based application. It is just making the most of today’s Content Management Systems. It is quite simple, free, and will give your SEO a boost - so read on and get one done in minutes!
First, you should be sure you know what the term means.
What an XML Sitemap is
Simply put, it is a basic list of your website’s URLs. It gives a structure of your website and what is in it. In this case, pages, posts and all that has to do with your website. In full, XML means, “Extensible Mark-up Language.” You may want to ask whether there’s a point to having an XML Sitemap. You’ll see why this is a vital tool to implement.
XML Sitemaps relate with search engines. Search engines such as Google have crawlers to index and organize published information on the web. The crawlers have the ability to read all sorts of information on a website, but with an XML sitemap the process becomes better, easier and faster for the search engines to crawl for indexing. This gives the potential to lift your website’s rankings via its SEO.
An XML Sitemap is like a table of contents in a book, but this time not all the pages in the book are important, and so not all are included. A properly structured XML Sitemap is a great resource that web crawlers will find useful, and consequently will impact positively on a website’s performance.They inform search engines about the updates on pages, and the rate at which they are done. It shows the priority level of the pages, which describes how important the pages are. It also tells the search engines how hidden content can be found and indexed.
A typical Sitemap looks like this:
1. The location of the page. That is, the URL - <loc>http://www.helloworld.com</loc>2. The last time the page was updated, - <lastmod>2017-05-06</llastmod>3. The frequency of the update on the page - <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>4. The priority level of the page - <priority>2</priority>
These are important features for XML Sitemaps.
An XML Sitemap makes it possible to identify particular content with an author. Not having a sitemap can present a website as having duplicate content.If there is any other tangible reason for a sitemap, it is the speed it gives to search engines to index your pages. Submitting one gives crawlers quick and easy work on websites.
If you’re not settled still, this full list of benefits will give you reasons why you should implement one:
1. XML Sitemap gives information to Google to crawl your pages for indexing2. Presents what should be crawled on the website3. Gives the type of information on a website4. Informs Google when, and how often, content is updated on your site5. Informs Google of your content's importance6. Helps bypass the limitation of internal linking weaknesses of a website7. Is useful for large websites to quickly get indexed8. Helps show search engines hidden content that is usually not visible, and crawled by search engines.
Creating a sitemap is just three basic steps:
1. Create the XML Sitemap2. Add the XML sitemap to the website3. Submit it to Google
In the process, we’ll also walk you through how to:
1. Create an XML Sitemap for any website type, size or of any platform2. Create an XML Sitemap for a WordPress-based website3. Submit the XML Sitemap to Google
Creating XML Sitemap with Screaming Frog (All websites)
Whether you use Blogger, Joomla or any other platform for your website, Screaming Frog makes creating an XML Sitemap easy. It is a user-friendly tool to use. You don’t even need to have a login access to use it, and it’s free for the first 500 pages. If you have a website with a large number of pages, you will surely want to invest in acquiring a license.
To get started with Screaming Frog, install it on your PC. Screaming Frog not only helps with XML but is also useful for a variety of SEO-related activities.Now, let’s start with the creation of an XML Sitemap:
Load Screaming Frog,
Insert your website’s URL at the field on the top
Click "Start" for the software to begin crawling
The time it will take for the software to crawl the website depends on how many pages the website has. It can range from a few minutes to hours in this regard. For a website containing 3,000 pages, it shouldn’t take more than a minute or two to complete.
After a full crawl, 100% completion is displayed.
1. Click “Sitemap” at the top menu bar2. Click on “Create XML Sitemap”
Next up is choosing your preferences on what to include in your XML Sitemap. A brief glossary of those preferences:
No index pages - these are pages you don’t want included in your XML SitemapInclude Canonicalised - these represent URLs that point to the same page whether to include them or not.Include pagination - a page of this kind is one that includes rel=attributes. It is better to not tamper with this. It can impact negatively on SEO if not done right.Include PDFs - this is self-explanatory. You can choose to include PDFs if the information therein is important. Google can index any page type.The XML Sitemap Feature settings such as last modified, change frequency and priority are better left at default settings.
1. Click “images” and make your selections for the options provided2. Click “Next”3. Click “Save” to save in your PC
That’s it. You now have an XML Sitemap file you can upload to your website through FTP (File Transfer Protocol).
Submitting the Sitemap to Google
Submitting the XML Sitemap to Google is through the Google Search Console linked to your website. With your Google account, log in to your Google Search console profile.
1. Click “Crawl” on the dashboard2. Click on “Sitemaps”3. Click on “Add/Test Sitemap”4. Input the Sitemap’s URL. This should come with an .xml extension.5. Click on “Test” initially, to have a preview
6. Check for any errors and be sure there are none. If all is good and well...7. Click “Submit”
The process is complete, and Google takes it from here.
Creating an XML Sitemap with Yoast (WordPress)
Yoast is a well-known plugin for SEO implementation. XML Sitemaps comes automatically when Yoast is installed. It is a simple process; these are what you need to have:
a. WordPress.org website or blogb. Install the Yoast pluginc. Google Search Console that is linked to the website
When you have these things, take these steps:
1. Login to the admin section of WordPress2. Click “Yoast Plugin”3. Click on the dashboard tab4. Click “Features” from the result5. Click “advanced” settings next6. Click “Enable” to enable advanced settings7. Click “Save Changes” at the bottom area
At this stage, you have additional features to work with for your XML Sitemap and SEO implementation. The next procedure is creating the XML Sitemap.
Click on “XML Sitemap”
From here, you can start implementing your settings. You may leave the general tab at the default settings.
Next, click the “User Sitemap” option
Click “Post types”
You are left with options on the types of post to include. You may include everything on your site, unless you are sure of what to exclude.
Click “Save Changes”
Next is “excluded post” if you have one. Add where necessary. When you are done, make sure you click "save changes."
This should be left at default unless you know otherwise, but always save changes you make.Now go back to your general tab to look at your brand new XML Sitemap. Finally, make sure to copy the last strings of the URL after the HTTP://. This is the part you’ll be submitting to Google.
XML Sitemaps give a roadmap for Google crawlers to crawl your pages effectively. There are numerous benefits of submitting an XML Sitemap to Google. It is good for SEO and consequently, the rankings of a website. Get one for your website if you haven’t already.
Got XML Sitemap setup for the crawlers? Let us into your site boosting experience with XML Sitemap, we’d love to learn from yours too.