The Role of the Website Sitemap
If you own a website, undoubtedly, one of your main concerns is reaching your target audience as well as increasing traffic on your website. There are a lot of SEO tips and tricks in order to achieve this. However, the role of the sitemap is sometimes underestimated. If you don’t have a sitemap or are unsure if your website has one, this article will help you learn the basics of a sitemap and why it is important to have one for your website.
What exactly is it?
A sitemap, as the name suggests, is a map of your website. Search engines use crawlers that analyse the organisation of your website’s content using sitemaps. Basically, it tells search engines where you’d like them to go when someone types in a keyword search. If your sitemap is well-structured, it will make your website easily searchable by search engines.
Two kinds of sitemaps
There are two types of Sitemaps – one version is for humans, and an XML sitemap for site crawlers or Googlebots. Most websites do away with uploading a sitemap for human visitors, choosing to just rely on the menu and dropdown lists. However, an XML sitemap is essential for crawlers to quickly find their way around your website, especially if you have a large website with several hundreds of web pages. Every website has a ‘crawl’ budget allocated to them so crawlers will not visit every webpage on your website, so it is of utmost importance to direct crawlers to where you want them to go.
Benefits of using an sitemap
1. Highlighting your website’s content
A sitemap will also help you organise your content and highlight your website’s main purpose. You can include anchor text for your web pages which provides just enough details to pique the curiosity of your website visitors. Using both of these on your website will certainly improve your SEO ranking as well. Furthermore, if you have made any changes to a webpage, this is also communicated to search engines via the sitemap.
2. Linking your website, internally or externally
Sitemaps also help websites that do not have many external links yet. Websites that have a lot of external links rank better in SEO results pages because it shows that their content is relevant in the chosen niche. However, if you have just newly created your website, you won’t have a lot of external links yet. Instead, an XML sitemap checks internal links on the website. The more cohesive your website content is, the better results it will have on SEO result pages.
3. Organizing your content
If your website has a lot of videos or photos, sitemaps help search engines understand and find your media content and get it on top of result pages. Website owners can inform Google of the category, title, description, duration, and intended audience for each video uploaded on the website. This provides Google data about your website which should also improve the listing of the videos or photos on search results.
4. Adds cohesiveness to your website
If your website has a wide range of topics that are not well linked to one another, it can cause confusion on your website and drive away traffic. Sitemaps help index each webpage and content and provide this info to search engines. This also serves as an organisation tool as it allows you to see which topics require more articles or web pages.
5. Simple and easy to create
You don’t need to learn how to code just to create your sitemap. If you are using a website domain such as Wix, it already has a sitemap built for you. If you don’t use a similar platform and still don’t have a sitemap, you can look for SEO plugins that will help you generate one in a few minutes’ time.
Indeed, sitemaps are a great little tool to improve your website’s SEO ranking. It might seem quite a chore to set up in the beginning, but the benefits of having a sitemap will sure make the effort well worth it.