A sitemap is a file or page that provides a structured list of all the URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) or web pages that are part of a website. It serves as a blueprint or guide for search engines and website visitors to navigate and understand the structure and organization of a website’s content.
Sitemaps are essential for several reasons:
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Search engines like Google, Bing, and others use sitemaps to crawl and index web pages more efficiently. When search engine bots visit a website, they can refer to the sitemap to discover all the pages on the site, ensuring that no content is overlooked.
- Content Organization: Sitemaps help users and search engines understand how a website is structured. This makes it easier for visitors to find specific content and for search engines to rank and display relevant pages in search results.
- Priority and Frequency: In a sitemap, webmasters can indicate the priority and update frequency of individual pages. This information helps search engines prioritize crawling and indexing tasks.
- XML and HTML Sitemaps: There are two main types of sitemaps: XML sitemaps, primarily for search engines, and HTML sitemaps, designed for human visitors. XML sitemaps are machine-readable files, while HTML sitemaps are web pages with links to various sections of a site.
- Dynamic and Static Sitemaps: Sitemaps can be generated dynamically by content management systems (CMS) or created manually. Dynamic sitemaps automatically update as new content is added to the website, while static sitemaps require manual updates.
- Mobile and Video Sitemaps: In addition to standard sitemaps, there are specialized sitemaps for mobile websites and video content. These help search engines understand and display mobile-friendly pages and video content in search results.
How to Submit and Check a Sitemap with Google
One of the best SEO practices is to submit your XML sitemap to Google. That’s primarily due to two factors:
1. It may speed up Google’s discovery of your sitemap.
2. You can use it to find sitemap problems.
Your sitemap can be submitted to the Google Search Console.
Read our comprehensive tutorial on how to set up Google Search Console for your site if you don’t already have an account.
Go to the “Sitemaps” report to submit your sitemap. It can be found in the left menu’s “Indexing” section.
There, under the “Add a new sitemap” area, enter the URL of your sitemap. After that, press the “Submit” button.
Following the submission of your sitemap, you will see a notice similar to this:
Read our post on how to submit a sitemap to Google for a more thorough explanation.
Anytime you access the report, you can keep an eye on the status of your sitemap. You’re all set if there is a green “Success” message.