A sitemap is just a web page that connects all of the pages on your website so that search engine spiders and site visitors can find it easily. A page’s design is usually organized hierarchically. As the name implies, a sitemap is a website map that search engine crawlers may use to understand better and traverse.
It’s a file that keeps track of your website’s pages and other files, as well as the links that connect them. Search engines use this sitemap file to scan your website better. It makes it easier for them to crawl and index your websites.
The sitemap of a website serves an efficient and essential purpose. It makes the website more user-friendly for people to browse and navigate. They won’t get lost with navigational assistance, and they won’t waste time looking for the information or website they need. It’s more likely that a visitor will return for another visit if they get the information they need fast on a website.
What is a sitemap is and why do you need it?
For the reasons listed below, the sitemap is essential:
Users will have an easier time navigating your website if the routes and instructions are apparent.
Website visitors and search engines alike benefit from having an updated sitemap. Create and publish a new version of your website each time you modify them.
They’re a vital line of communication with search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing, among others.
Robots.txt tells search engines which sections of your site to skip crawling, but a site map tells them exactly where to go.
Sitemaps may be created in a variety of forms, including XML, HTML, and others.
So what are sitemap best practices in 2021 for better SEO?
A dynamic sitemap is a special kind that may update itself as you make changes to your sites. Because a dynamic sitemap automatically changes when a rule is met, it’s beneficial for big websites or publications that frequently update a significant number of pages. Search engine bots and crawlers have an easier time accessing and using Dynamic Sitemaps, and they are less likely to get corrupted.
Make a List of Priorities for Your Websites
Prioritizing your websites is an excellent sitemap best practice to follow. To rank your websites, you may use Google’s sitemap protocol, which gives you a score between zero and one.
The crawling frequency will be increased for sites with higher scores compared to those with low scores. As a general rule, give higher marks to dynamic pages with more regular content updates.
A blog with frequent content additions or updates, such as these, will get a better rating. In the same way, static pages, such as “contact us” or “about us,” which are not often updated, should get lower ratings. Refrain from giving perfect ratings to every page.
Search engines, as much as you may appreciate them, are more objective. As a result, they won’t distinguish between dynamic and static sites, and you may lose some of the benefits.
Use Sitemap Generator Tools
Even while creating a sitemap may seem daunting, it is not. Sitemap generator tools may be beneficial to you. The procedure may be aided even further on specific sites by technologies that are already integrated. You may utilize the Yoast plugin if you’re using WordPress to create your website.
This enables XML sitemaps straight from the plugin. Google XML Sitemaps is another option for creating a sitemap for your website. This is a WordPress plugin developed by a third party, not by Google. Using this plugin, you may create dynamic sitemaps from any WordPress page type.
Categorize Your Content Properly
A sitemap’s primary objective is to aid search engines in comprehending the structure and content of your website. As a result, categorizing your material properly is critical to identify shared characteristics and a hierarchy of importance. As a result, one of the essential sitemaps best practices is classifying your website’s content correctly.
The homepage, followed by categories and their subdivisions, is the most common arrangement for website content. Likewise, the hierarchical order is maintained. The most important thing to remember is group categories and subcategories depending on how similar their material is.
This way, all related material will be grouped in a single category rather than being dispersed. Instead of simply improving navigation for your consumers, this is also a fantastic sitemap best practice.
Never use URLs that are labeled as “Non-Indexed.”
Never include “non-indexed” URLs in your website’s sitemap, according to XML sitemap best practices. A non-indexed URL is a web page that you do not want to crawl to the index for search engines.
Some sites may be utility pages that you require for your website but don’t want to appear in search results. You may prevent certain websites from being indexed by adding a non-index tag to your robots.txt file. This ensures that your budget for the crawl is not wasted.
Use HTML Sitemaps Correctly
There are three kinds of sitemaps, as previously stated. An HTML sitemap is a kind that website visitors may see to assist them in navigating the site. Placing this HTML sitemap on your homepage is one of the finest sitemap strategies.
Putting the HTML sitemap in this place will help to guarantee that visitors can quickly locate it. Instead of browsing through the different categories and subcategories one by one, users may search the URLs contained in the sitemap to discover what they’re looking for.
Include “Indexed” URLs Only When Necessary
Never include “non-indexed” URLs in your website’s sitemap. For search engines, a non-indexed URL is a web page that you do not want to crawl in order to index. It’s possible that some sites are utility pages that you require for your website but don’t want to appear in search results.
You may prevent certain websites from being indexed by adding a non-index tag to your robots.txt file. This ensures that your budget for the crawl is not wasted.
Google Sitemaps provide website owners with a method to inform Google about all of the pages on their website. Google Sitemaps are completely free in order to ensure that no pages are skipped and that the relative importance of certain pages may be adjusted.
It is essential for webmasters and SEOs to understand and appreciate the importance of sitemaps in order for them to offer added value to their websites. Because of their significance in boosting search visibility and presence, sitemap development and optimization are already a component of the majority of search engine optimization methods.