No matter the type, sitemaps can be essential for any website. While you can rely on a well-designed website of which pages are appropriately linked, search engine crawlers use XML sitemaps to better understand your site’s content and the organization of such. Since it never hurts to create an XML sitemap for your website, it’s recommended you do so to help improve rankings, as well as your site’s overall visibility.
In creating an XML sitemap for your website, you’ll improve your website’s ability to rank within search engine results, which you can then track with StatCounter to ensure your website is performing as expected. Monitoring the results of this and other tactics within SEO is essential, so take a moment to learn more about XML sitemaps so you can improve rankings and acquire more traffic to site—and monitor such accordingly.
If you’d like to gain more insight as to how SEO works and what it can do for your business and website, take a look at the articles provided below:
What is an XML Sitemap
Though we’ve touched upon its use above, an XML sitemap is a file which lists the individual URLs for each page of a site. However, XML sitemaps also allow you to add specific information about each URL so the search engine crawlers can better understand the organization of content. This could be when it was last updated, how often the page changes, or how important the page is in comparison to other pages.
Simply put, an XML sitemap helps search engine crawlers understand the hierarchy and architecture of your site. Once indexed, your sitemap will provide search engines with information as to how your site is organized, which can help your website rank higher for targeted keywords and improve your site’s overall visibility within search engines.
How to Create an XML Sitemap
While it seems complicated, creating an XML sitemap is actually quite easy. In fact, there are a number of XML sitemap generators that can crawl your webpages and create an XML sitemap for you. Seeing as XML sitemaps are the preferred format by search engines (as opposed to HTML), having an XML sitemap on your website is highly recommended. Since they help search engines index your website, you’ll likely miss out on improving your keyword rankings without one. To get started in creating an XML sitemap for your website, take a look the tools provided below, any of which can help you create a sitemap with ease.
- Screaming Frog
Submitting Your XML Sitemap to Search Engines
Once you have created an XML sitemap for your website, you will then need to submit it to search engines. Luckily, many search engines, like Google and Bing, have made submitting your sitemap relatively easy with their Search Consoles. Here’s how you do it:
- Login to Google Search Console and select your website
- On the left, click “Crawl” and then click “Sitemaps”
- Click “Add/Test Sitemap” then enter “sitemap_index.xml”
- Hit “Submit”
- Login to Bing Webmaster Tools and click your site from the “My Sites” page
- Next, click on “Configure My Site” then click “Sitemaps”
- Enter the URL for you sitemap
- Hit “Submit”
Of course, each time you add a new page to your website you will need to update your sitemap and submit it to search engines for proper indexing. This will ensure every page of your website is indexed and can be served by search engines in their search engine results rankings. The more pages you have ranking in search engine results, the more traffic you can acquire to site.
XML vs HTML Sitemaps
While XML sitemaps are the preferred format for search engines, they are not accessible to the average website visitor. And while your navigation menus should make it easy for visitors to find each page of your website easily, an HTML sitemap can further improve your website's user experience.
Real World Application
Let’s say you run a successful local cosmetics company in Timonium, Maryland. If a visitor comes to your website looking for a particular product and they are having trouble finding it in your online shop, they could visit your website’s sitemap and see if they can find it.
As with XML sitemaps, you can also use generators to create an HTML sitemap for your site visitors. Given that each type of sitemap can improve how your website performs in search engine results, as well as the user experience of your site, adding both is good practice. Plus, the tools available make it an easy task.
Monitor Your Results with StatCounter
Creating an XML sitemap can be quite beneficial in regards to SEO and your website’s search engine rankings. However, in order to ensure your sitemap and other SEO strategies are performing well, you’ll need to track your efforts with detailed analytics from StatCounter. You can use the metrics provided in our web tracker to find areas of your site that could use improvement, as well as those areas that are performing well. Then, you can continue to make wise decisions in regards to SEO.
If you are in need of assistance or have any questions, please contact StatCounter member support by filling out the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
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