As the Internet evolves, so does SEO and Google. This means that what may have been a good practice yesterday may no longer be effective today. This is especially applicable for sitemaps, which are about as old as SEO itself. The top website designing company will surely agree that sitemaps can help drive your SEO’s key performance indicators. If you don’t understand the intricacies of using sitemaps to boost your SEO, let’s clear the confusion around it.
What’s an XML Sitemap?
In the most basic term, an XML sitemap simply refers to a list of website URLs. It’s like a roadmap that will inform search engines what content is available on your site and how they can reach it. This ability of the XML sitemap helps search engine crawlers for faster indexation and is especially important for website owners that frequently add new pages, regularly change the content of existing pages, and most especially those websites that suffer from poor internal linking.
Although search engines are capable of technically finding your URLs even without a sitemap, by adding an XML sitemap, you’re proving that you have high-quality landing pages on your website.
Types of Sitemaps
There are several different types of sitemaps and the top website designing company should integrate them into your site.
Let’s take a look at some of them:
- XML Image Sitemap – Image sitemaps are designed to enhance the indexation of the image content. In today’s SEO, however, most images are often embedded within the content of the page and will be crawled along with the URL.
- XML Video Sitemap – Just like images, if the videos are important to your business, you need to submit an XML video sitemap. Otherwise, the video sitemap is no longer necessary.
- Mobile Sitemap – This is not really required for most websites because these are only for feature phone pages and not really for smartphone compatibility. Unless you have unique URLs that are designed specifically for feature phones, the mobile sitemap may no longer be needed.
XML Sitemap Best Practices
It requires a lot of time and effort to implement XML sitemaps and boost the SEO of your website.
Although the top website designing company can help you with this, here’s a checklist of the best practices:
- Add hreflang tags in the XML sitemaps.
- Compress the sitemap files with the help of gzip.
- Download the sitemap data to analyse indexation rates.
- Fix all errors and warnings.
- Generate XML sitemaps.
- Group the URLs in a descriptively named sitemap depending on the type of the page.
- Include only relevant pages in XML sitemaps.
- Make sure that URLs are included in a single sitemap only.
- Make sure to add these tags <loc> and <lastmod>.
- Reference the sitemap index URLs in the robots.txt
- Submit the sitemap index to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console.
- Use images and videos only if the indexation drives your KPI.
- Use the sitemap index file.
With this checklist as your guide, go ahead and check your own sitemap now to ensure that you’re on the right track.