Sitemaps have been around for a long time, but they are still very important for SEO.
A sitemap lists the most important pages on a website, ensuring that search engines can find and crawl them. It also aids in understanding your website structure by demonstrating which pages are valuable and having them indexed on a regular basis to ensure only your most recent content appears in search results.
We have created a simple step-by-step guide on how to add a sitemap to Google Search Console. But first, what exactly is Google Search Console and what does it do?
Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) is a free platform that allows anyone with a website to monitor and optimize their site’s organic presence.
It clearly describes how Google crawls, indexes, and serves websites, as well as the referring domains, mobile site performance, rich search results, and most popular queries and pages. All of the data provided can assist website owners in monitoring and optimizing Search performance.
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Types of Sitemap
There are two types of sitemaps that are commonly used, they are XML and HTML.
While they perform similar functions, there are a few key differences. SEO professionals frequently use both in their strategy to target search engine crawlers and users.
1. XML Sitemaps:
XML sitemaps are designed for search engine bots rather than users. You’ll use your XML sitemap to share technical information about your website, such as the number of pages and how frequently they’re updated.
When things change on your site, you should notify search engines. New or refreshed content indicates to search engine bots that your content is likely relevant or useful, and that you are a leader in your field or niche.
2. HTML Sitemaps:
HTML Sitemaps, like XML files, detail the pages and links available on your website. HTML sitemaps can be crawled by search engine bots, and using them sends strong user experience signals to Google.
However, because it is an HTML file, a user can view it in their browser. Your HTML sitemap should contain links that will assist the user in navigating your website.
What to Include in Your XML Sitemap for Maximum SEO
Before delving into the implementation details, it’s critical to understand what should be included in your XML sitemap for maximum SEO.
Plugins used for this will include all of your website’s pages, posts, tags, archives, media, and so on by default, which is not what we want for SEO purposes.
The following are the most important sitemap optimization guidelines:
• Include in your sitemap the pages (including posts) that are important to your website. These are the pages with high-quality content that are more likely to drive organic traffic to your site.
• Pages with duplicate content should be excluded. Archive pages, tag pages, and author pages are all good candidates for WordPress websites.
• Pages with ‘thin content’ should be excluded. When it comes to optimizing a website for search engines, you don’t want to submit low-quality pages to their index. It is not a numbers game, which means that it is not a matter of how many pages are in the index, but of how many ‘good’ pages are in the index.
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• A good way to distinguish your ‘good pages’ from those you don’t want to include in your sitemap is to either ‘no-index’ the pages or add them to a category and exclude the category (and pages) from the sitemap file.
• Create sub-sitemaps for your sitemap. This also has the added benefit of making sitemaps smaller and faster to process.
Please provide a separate sitemap for your videos (if applicable).
• Only include URLs that Google can access. Do not include pages that are blocked by robots or are behind a password-protected area in the sitemap.
• Make sure your XML Sitemap contains the ‘last modification time’ field, a value that tells Google when a page was last modified. This is useful if you want Google to re-index some of your website’s pages.
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Steps on How to Submit XML Sitemap in Google Search Console
Step 1: Log in to Google Search Console
Step 2: Locate and click “Sitemaps”
Step 3: Type in your sitemap filename (i.e. sitemap_index.xml) and click the submit button
When you do this, the sitemap will be marked as Pending. Return in a few days to see how many pages were submitted in your sitemap and how many were indexed.
Originally posted on June 24, 2022 @ 5:55 pm