The importance of a sitemap on every website for Search Engine Optimization

Why It’s Important to have an XML Sitemap on every website.

March 30, 2024CategoriesTags

How important is a sitemap to SEO?

A sitemap allows search engines to see a catalog of all the pages on your website in one place. Ideally, they crawl the pages and decide how to rank them. Having a sitemap is at minimum keeping up with Google. At best, it allows other search engines to identify our page listing. 

Google Search Console Requests a sitemap

If Google search console is asking for a sitemap, we should stop and listen.  Google search console emails users immediately after creating an account and requests sitemaps.

Google Inspect had Sitemap and Reffering Page front and center as a KPI in their report for a healthy page when inspecting it. 

Take the human approach

Consider this, if Google is trying to evaluate how you rank your own content two key factors are:

  1. How easy is it to find this page?  Is the page accessible within 2-3 links of the home page? Or is it hidden behind a wall of obscure clicks?
  2. Did you list it on your sitemap? Did you take the time to show the Spiders of the internet your important content?

Enough of that, What do we do? How do we make a sitemap?

First, let's define what is and is not important in a sitemap. We can sure get carried away in a hurry.

Priority and ChangeFreq are not needed in a sitemap

Google ignores <priority> and <changefreq> values.”

Here is an article from Google.

https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing/sitemaps/build-sitemap#sitemapformat

Keep in Simple, Smarty

Page location and Last modified date are all we need.

When did we change it and what did we change?

<lastmod> is used for by spiders to know if they need to respider. 

We should be maintaining this variable.

Google uses the <lastmod> value if it's consistently and verifiably (for example by comparing to the last modification of the page) accurate.

Sitemap Example Format

Bere is the basic formsat

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>https://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2024-03-03</lastmod>
  </url>
</urlset>

To repeat this you can add more

  <url>
    <loc>https://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2024-03-03</lastmod>
  </url>

This is an example with multiple ULR’s

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>https://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2024-03-03</lastmod>
  </url>
 <url>
    <loc>https://www.example.com/foo1.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2024-03-01</lastmod>
  </url>
 <url>
    <loc>https://www.example.com/foo2.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2024-02-02</lastmod>
  </url>
</urlset>

Check out the full documentation at sitemaps.org

Once the sitemap is built

  1. Submit Sitemap To Google Search Console
  2. Append the Sitemap to your robots file.
    1. Sitemap: https://example.com/my_sitemap.xml

How do we build our own sitemap dynamically?

I am so glad you asked. This is the million-dollar question. How do we automate to create accuracy, add efficiency, and save time?

Easy. Add a function to the insert, update, and delete calls when manipulating data.

When a client makes a change to a record, a new site map is created.

The sitemap should created based on every page in the system. 

No pages are missed, neglected, or lost to time. All updates are live and when search engines decide to give you some crawl time, our pages are ready in every way.

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