Sitemaps are a basic component of any website but it’s not something that you always think about. In fact, the bigger a website is, the more unorganized and forgotten a sitemap might be.
1) What is a sitemap? A sitemap is a structured format that tells search engines, like Google, about the importance of the pages on your website. Although sitemaps aren’t necessarily made for humans, you can think of them as an appendix or table of contents for your web pages.
XML sitemaps consist of a list of pages you want search engines to crawl in XML format. XML sitemaps are helpful because you can also indicate date of creation, priority of the page and how often each page is updated.
2) Sitemaps and rankings. Sitemaps are helpful for organization purposes and it’s false to spread misinformation that simply creating and submitting sitemaps will boost your search rankings. This is a myth that you might hear from time to time and it’s even been brought up at SEO conferences.
A page can rank without being linked on a sitemap but being on a sitemap doesn’t make a page rank.
3) Multiple sitemaps. A website can have multiple sitemaps including different ones for: video, images, mobile, and news. The reason for having multiple sitemaps is that if you have a large site, it might be difficult to keep track of pages and their hierarchy on one document. Google doesn’t have a problem with this and supports submissions of multiple sitemaps. Just make sure to test and check for errors before you submit a sitemap. Like we said before, the main purpose of this is for webmasters to be organized and keep better track of their pages.
4) Sitemaps are important. We now know that sitemaps are important but really, why? They make up the foundation of the layout of your website. If you’re undergoing a redesign or are looking at the importance of pages based on topics, looking at your sitemap will be your best bet. Creating an accurate and easy to follow sitemap isn’t something that you want to put off. Why backtrack when you can add each page that’s added and build it correctly going forward?
Having an accurate sitemap is especially important for sites that are large and have dynamic content. At the same time, they’re helpful for small sites that might not have a lot of internal linking going on. Either way, you want all the pages in one place for your self reference as well as for search engines.
5) Sitemap generators. The good news is that if you’ve put off maintaining your sitemap(s), there are tools and generators that can do all the hard work for you! But that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to do any work yourself. When you’re finished generating a sitemap, make sure to go over each item manually and see if there are any strange pages that shouldn’t be indexed or other items, like pictures, that don’t belong on a sitemap.