How to Create a Sitemap
While sitemaps aren’t always necessary for every website, they never hurt to have and they can have a strong impact on both your SEO strategy and the user experience on your site. Not only will a sitemap allow search engine crawlers to better understand the content and organization of such across your website, but having a sitemap can also help improve search engine rankings and provide a better experience on site for your users.
At StatCounter, we not only strive to provide in-depth analytics to our valued customers, but we also seek to provide valuable insight into SEO and the strategies involved with such. Having said that, allow us to explain the importance of a sitemap and how you can create one for your site. Then, you can use our analytics to monitor your efforts and ultimately improve the visibility of your website. Before we get started on how to create a sitemap, take a moment to understand the two types.
If you're ready to take the next step in SEO training, you can gain more insight into the strategies therein by viewing the articles below:
Types of Sitemaps
Of course, before we get into how to create a sitemap, you need to first determine what type of sitemap you’d like added to your site. In essence, there are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML. An HTML sitemap caters to the user, displaying the site architecture so they can find the page that suits their needs without having to click through multiple pages to find it. In contrast, an XML sitemap provides the same for search engine crawlers. As mentioned, an XML sitemap informs search engines about the organization of your content, which allows them to pull up results closely matching the user’s search intent.
Having both an HTML and an XML sitemap for your website is a common practice, and can benefit your online presence. While an HTML sitemap likely won’t help your keyword rankings, it can help to improve the user experience on your site by making all your web pages more easily accessible.
XML sitemaps, on the other hand, are used strictly by search engines. Once you have created your XML sitemap, you will need to submit it to various search engines so your web pages can be indexed properly. This can help improve keyword rankings and further improve your online presence.
How to Create a Sitemap
When creating a sitemap for your website, you have a couple of options. First, you need to determine which of the two types of sitemap you’d like to create. As mentioned before, it is good practice to include both for your website. If your website is well designed with pages appropriately linked, you may not need to rely on an HTML sitemap as much. However, an XML sitemap will still make sense to ensure crawlers can fully understand the organization of your site.
Regardless of the type you choose, you can utilize any sitemap generator to create one before submitting it to be crawled by a search engine. Take a look below for some sitemap generators you can utilize:
Once you’ve created your XML sitemap, you will need to submit it to Google and other search engines (each search engine differs for submission). Below, you can see how to submit your sitemap to Google and Bing, depending on which search engine your site visitors utilize most (you can determine this in our Web Tracker).
If you’re just getting started on building your website, it’s a good idea to create your sitemap at this time as well. This way, you can set it up to make adding content in the future a much smoother process. Otherwise, creating a sitemap once you already have a long list of pages on site could be a more difficult task.
Submitting Your Sitemap to Google
- 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”
Submitting Your Sitemap to Bing
- 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”
Track Results with StatCounter
Once you’ve created your sitemap and submitted it to the appropriate search engines, you’ll then want to monitor your results. With Statcounter, you can keep a close eye on certain metrics to determine how your visitors are interacting on site, among a range of other useful information. From there, you can use your findings to determine where to go next with your SEO strategies.
If you ever need assistance or have any questions about utilizing our tools, be sure to contact StatCounter member support by filling out the form below.
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