What are Sitemaps?
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is a file where you can list out all the webpages of your website to let search engines like Google know about what your website contains. When you submit your sitemap to a search engine, the search engine’s crawlers will read the file to properly index your website and all of its contents.
Sitemaps, too, provide search engines with crucial metadata associated with the pages on your website, including specific types of content found on your pages.
Do I need one?
Unless your site’s pages are properly linked for proper indexing (even so, a sitemap is still recommended to improve the crawling of your site), you’ll need a sitemap if:
- Your website is really large – There are bigger chances that some of your new or recently updated pages won’t be crawled and indexed without a sitemap.
- Your site is new – If your site is new and has few external links to it, web crawlers might not be able to discover your pages if no other sites link to them.
- Your site has a large archive of contents that are not linked to each other – If your site pages are not properly referenced within your website, a sitemap can ensure that web crawlers will not overlook these unreferenced or unlinked pages.
- Your site has rich media content – By including rich media contents on your pages in the sitemap, search engines will be able to take account of these contents for search.
What’s the difference between a HTML Sitemap and an XML Sitemap?
HTML sitemaps provide a general overview of the website and ll its associated pages. It contains information your user needs to find a page they want to visit on your site. XML sitemaps, on the other hand, not only contains all URLs to your site’s pages, but also all associated metadata including when your URL was last updated, the average frequency of changes, the URL’s relation with the rest of the website, etc.
Simply put, the HTML sitemap is geared towards your website’s users while the XML sitemap is primarily for search engine spiders.
How do I generate an XML sitemap?
Generating an XML sitemap on your website will depend on the CMS you’re using. Choose your platform and click on the help file below to know how.