A sitemap is an XML file that contains all crawlable URLs. They inform search engines, such as Google, about the content of our website, the update dates of individual sub pages and any changes. Many people underestimate the impact of sitemaps on the site’s position in the search engine. This is a mistake! From the positioning point of view, it is absolutely necessary. Why?
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What is a site map useful for?
It makes it easier for search engine bots to index your site. Links to specific places on the website located in one place significantly speed up the entire process. The effect of this is to improve visibility on the Internet.
The map can be prepared manually, but if it works for small sites, it will be a truly Sisyphean job for the larger ones. It is best to use special generators recommended by Google, and the list of recommended tools can be found at this address.
After completing the process, we receive a sitemap.xml file that should be placed in the website directory. You then need to notify Google by adding the map to your robots.txt file or reporting it using Search Console. Before we do that, however, let’s take a look at the generated page file. There are several aspects that we must absolutely check.
We create a map – what should you remember?
Are all important addresses on the sitemap?
The automatic tools have it that they sometimes miss important subpages when indexing the site. The problem with the lack of all URLs may also appear if our sitemap is static. It is worth choosing to use a dynamic version that will be automatically expanded with new links. From time to time, it is also worth comparing the number of links on the map with those detected by robots. Tools such as Deep crawl or Site bulb can be used for this purpose.
Not all URLs are desirable.
The XML sitemap file should not contain the following:
- lead to non-existent subpages (errors 4xx / 3xx / 5xx),
- lead to subpages with duplicate content,
- are blocked in the robots.txt file,
- are not indexed,
- lead to subpages to which other internal links do not lead.
The same tools as in the paragraph above can be used to detect the above-mentioned links.
Have all the addresses in the sitemap been indexed?
By sending a sitemap to Google, we can verify that the search engine has indexed all URL links. We will see how many of them have not been noted on a special subpage. Usually, this applies to the links mentioned in the paragraph above. All unindexed addresses should be removed from the sitemap or made to lead to existing subpages.