What is a Sitemap in a Website?

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There is an ocean of sites in the internet. More than 2 billion of sites are running on the internet and each of them is serving different kinds of purposes respectively. A website running on the internet is also having bunch of web pages which are connected and joined with each other through HTML Tags. So, how would a webmaster will take care of all of those pages? This will be done with the help of a sitemap. So, what is a sitemap now?

Let’s know about it in detail.

What is a sitemap?

While browsing you must have came across the term Sitemap. Well, site map is the list of web pages of a website which are accessible to its audiences as well as search engines.

In more simple words, XML sitemap is a roadmap to all the essential web pages in your website. This is of great use when dealing with SEO as it will help the search engines in reaching out each and every page even if your pages are not properly linked internally.

Basically, it can be added as a simple plain text or in the form of a complete well-designed page.

Are sitemaps useful for webmasters?

Yes, they are. They help the users and search engines to locate the pages easily and work can be done more rapidly.

  • While talking about the benefits of the sitemap it increases the proximity to get located by the search engines.
  • With this a site can be easily found by the search engine.
  • Whenever a user tries to search some information that is present on your web site, the site map will increase the chances of your website to be located by the search engines.
  • This is especially important if a site uses a dynamic access to content such as Adobe Flash or JavaScript menus that do not include HTML links.
  • Often it was found that the search engines will locate only definite number of links from a particular website. And if the numbers of links are much, then the sitemap can really help you in it so that the search engines can scan your whole website.

And always remember to give importance to them while performing on-page SEO to boost your ranking in Google search results. With their help, Google robots can crawl through even those pages which are not linked appropriately in your website. This will be achieved by the list of web pages that is created by the XML Sitemap.

For example – Here is a list of web pages produced by Yoast plugin

What is Sitemap: XML Sitemap

This was achieved by enabling the Yoast plugin that is a WordPress plugin in the website.

Now when you will click on any of the link you will find the list of web pages in there.

A normal sitemap page something looks like the given below image.

What is Sitemap: XML Sitemap List Page

Here you can see that it contains URL, number of images in a page and the latest date on which the page has been modified. This helps Google crawler to crawl through the latest modified page as early as possible as Google is pretty much intelligent to smell the new content and immediately index it.

There could only be 50k URLs in a sitemap, so splitting of sitemap becomes important when the website is too large. This not only helps in keeping the URLs in an optimised manner but also helps in increasing the loading speed of the page.

Differences between a sitemap and site index

There is a huge debate between the site index and sitemap. Many developers think and feel that Site Index is more appropriable in usage in connection with page function. The way of presentation may vary in both (Site Map and Site Index). As many individuals prefer Site Index over the sitemap.

Here’s an image of an site index page

What is Sitemap: Site Index Page

The main rational behind this is that a site index offers you an index form A-Z index, like you can directly shift to the desired content. But in Sitemap you will see a general top-down view of the overall site contents.

What type of websites needs sitemap?

Here are the 4 types of websites that should definitely have sitemap namely –

  • Too large websites
  • Websites having to large archives
  • Ones with less external links
  • Sites which have enormous media content such as images, videos, gifs etc.

Though these are the types of sites that should mandatorily have sitemap, but it is good to have them for small websites as well, because each website wants Google to notice it and this is one of the best ways to do that.

Which pages to include in sitemap?

It’s indeed important to decide that which one page is relevant and can be added.

Make sure to add your important services, product (in case of an e-commerce site), blogs, articles, news, about, contact, etc. pages.

There is no need to add archive pages.

We are adding URLs into the sitemap so that Google does not miss any important web page to index. But even if we will not add URLs in sitemap then also Google will index the pages if it will reach that page by following the links.

So, it is very important to mark unnecessary pages as no index as well as no follows, so that Google won’t waste its time crawling.

How to Create a Sitemap?

There are broadly two types of sitemaps that can be added to your website:

  • XML sitemap
  • HTML sitemap.

HTML sitemaps are just a plain formatted which can be access by your site visitors.

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On the other hand, XML sitemaps are useful for search engines because search engines need it to index your site.

These two types can be created in two ways either create manually or can take help from an online tool to create it.

There are some good tools available on internet to create any type of sitemap. Some of the links are given below to generate a sitemap for various websites:

Online sites to create sitemap for a static website:

  • https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
  • https://xmlsitemapgenerator.org/

XML sitemap generators for other platforms are given below:

WordPress

  • http://www.wordpress.org/plugins/google-sitemap-generator/
  • Yoast plugin

Drupal

  • https://www.drupal.org/project/xmlsitemap

Joomla

  • http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/structure-a-navigation/site-map

How to add sitemap in WordPress site?

We will be discussing the simplest way in which you can create sitemap in WordPress websites.

Step 1 – Install Yoast SEO plug-in as it is the best as well as reliable being installed and used by more than 5 million users.

Step 2 – After installing and activating the plugin, go to “FEATURES” tab where you have to enable the ‘Advanced setting pages’ and then save.

What is Sitemap: Yoast SEO Advanced Settings

Step 3 – After that on your left you will find Yoast SEO, just select ‘XML Sitemaps’. Before doing this make it confirmed that ‘XML sitemap functionality’ is active/enabled.

What is Sitemap: XML Sitemaps
What is Sitemap: Sitemap settings in Yoast SEO

Step 4 – If you want to see you sitemap just go to the ‘XML Sitemap’ link.

Now, this is how a sitemap can be obtained.

Another challenge is to submit to Google.

But there are a few quick steps that you can follow to submit to Google in no time.

Let’s check those steps.

What are the steps to submit sitemap to Google?

Here is a step by step guide to submit the sitemap on Google –

Step 1 – Login into your google account to which website is connected.

Step 2 – Go to Search Console and select the option of ‘Add a Property’.

Step 3 – There you will be asked to enter your website. Enter it and then click ‘Add’.

What is Sitemap: Add property to Google Search Console

Step 4 – Now, you will be taken down, there choose ‘Alternate methods’ and select ‘HTML tag’. Now, copy the content that is there between quotes after the content. ( the one marked in red in the image)

What is Sitemap: Google webmaster verification

Step 5 – Now, go to Yoast dashboard and select the ‘Webmaster Tools’ tab. Find the ‘Google Search Console Box’ and paste that copied code that you got from Google Search Console for verification.  Don’t forget to save.

What is Sitemap: Webmaster tools settings

Step 6 – Now, verify that you have added everything. After verification, you’ll see the confirmation screen.

What is Sitemap: Google Search Console Confirmation

So, isn’t it easy to add your website’s sitemap to Google?

Let us know about your queries regarding the submission of sitemap to Google Search Console in the comment section below.

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To know about the practical use of sitemap and better understanding about the same, take the guidance from the best web design and development institute in Delhi, where professional trainers will guide you about the same. Our web design training institute is having an experience of more than 15 years in providing industry-oriented training that adds value in the skills of our students and transform them into a web pro from a novice.

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