For many website owners sitemap is not really important concept. In reality, a sitemap is a very powerful tool, which can rise value of our website. What is more, if we have it implemented on our website, we can make navigation easier for readers. So what exactly is a sitemap, and what profits can it bring for us?
A sitemap displays a website’s structure, sections, and links. It helps users to navigate through our website, and it also improves our position in search rankings. When designing a website with a website builder or writing code by hand we always must be aware that it will serve two different types of audience – people and search engine bots.
There are many kinds of sitemaps, but some of the most important and the most popular are HTML and XML. HTML map is designed for people visiting a website, and most often we can find it in the footer, although this is not the rule. This makes it easier for lost users to navigate and find the right subpage. We have already written that Google rewards websites that are easy to use, and well-designed map can definitely influence user experience (UX).
An XML sitemap is a list of subpages and URL created for search engine bots or simply bots. It informs them which parts of our website should be indexed, and also determines its hierarchy, priority content and update frequency.
If we want our website to be visible in search engines, first it has to be indexed by them and placed in their databases. All search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, Google or others, have their own index, based on which they generate results for individual queries. If we have website indexing problems, we can lose many visitors.
According to WorldWideWebSize.com, at least 4.56 billion websites are currently indexed. It is really a lot!
Sometimes our websites or URL addresses can be omitted by a search engine for unknown reasons. An XML map will then make way for bots to view the full structure of our site and improve its indexing performances.
The XML Sitemap is also useful for duplicate content and valuable content. Google has long struggled with duplicate content to eliminate spam from search results. The XML Map informs us that we are the first creator of the content because it will display its date and time of publication. What is more, thanks to the map, Google knows if we publish old and repetitive posts, which can lower our rankings.
If the website has the correct design and link, search engine bots will reach most of its parts. Google informs that the XML map can be useful also if our site is large, because of which some subpages may not be indexed, or has a large archive with isolated and unrelated content.
If you are creating your website using some kind of a CMS, like WordPress, you will need to create your sitemap manually. There are also some plugins available, that will help you create your sitemap. If you're a website builder, like WebWave the sitemap.xml file is created automatically every time the page is published. In addition to each subsequent publication of the site, the map is updated on a regular basis.
If you're using WebWave web design software to create your websites you do not have to do anything and your sitemap.xml file will always be valid and up to date. It will be available at yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
If you wish to create HTML sitemap it's best to put it in your website's footer.
Creating an XML and HTML sitemap is absolutely recommended to everyone because they simply do not have any drawbacks. Every site owner wants to improve user experience and increase search results. Remember that both of our maps will help you with this, and if you have any questions about their design, please contact us.
Do you always create sitemaps on your sites? Do you know any other examples of sitemaps besides HTML and XML? We invite you to discuss and share your knowledge in the comments.
Paweł Krzywina - Web Developer, journalist, PR person
5 years of experience in web development and a business journalist. A lover of written language, new technologies, literature, and sport.
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