Ok, I’m embarrassed to admit it. But as a journalist rather than a programmer, I used to look at a website, note the link labeled “sitemap” on the page, and think, “What’s the point? Isn’t that what the navigation is for? Why does anyone need a map? What is an XML sitemap?”
News flash. It’s not a map for people, but for bots.
XML Sitemaps, and their importance in the world of digital marketing, can still be a mystery to many who enjoy only a casual relationship with the technical side of website development and SEO enhancement. At VistaComm, they are a mandatory addition to every website we create. Here is a quick explanation of what XML Sitemaps are, what they bring to the table and why you should care.
First: What is an XML sitemap?
What is a sitemap? Here’s a basic explanation straight from Google. “A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
[caption id="attachment_2532" align="aligncenter" width="608"] Here is an example of an XML sitemap created by YoastSEO[/caption]
A sitemap can also provide information about specific pages, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed and the importance of the page relative to others in the site.
Now: Why do you need one?
As in, why is this important. Ultimately, a sitemap helps with search engine optimization because it makes it easier for Google to find out about the content on your site so they can serve it up in the search results.
Here are some of the many other benefits of using an XML sitemap.
- Content alerts: Search engine rankings are now driven by content. Consistently placing fresh, relevant content on your site improves your visibility. A sitemap notifies Google whenever your site content is modified.
- Sitemap = roadmap: The whole point of website creation is to be found online, and having an XML sitemap will bring traffic to your site more quickly. This is particularly important for new websites.
- Emphasize the important: Sitemaps let you assign a priority to your web pages. This means that the pages carrying your most important content will be crawled and indexed faster than those with a lower value.
- Faster flow: Most content is better fresh, especially news. With a sitemap, spiders will find your fresh content faster...and so will your visitors.
- Continuing education: You can learn a lot about your visitors by monitoring your sitemap reports. You can track traffic sources, perform keyword searches and pinpoint errors to improve site performance. This information can help you improve your content and attract more traffic.
Creating a sitemap is a routine part of every website we design at VistaComm, but it is only one small part of a comprehensive digital marketing plan that can increase your online impact. For more information about our digital marketing program, contact us today.
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