When building a website or revamping an existing one, every business seeks to create a site that is organised, search engine optimised and user-friendly; simple and intuitive to navigate, and provides the user and the search engines with all they need to know about the business.
🤔 But how does one achieve all of that? With a sitemap.
Sitemaps come in two forms; visual and XML. Here we will be discussing the XML sitemap, which is essentially a list of pages on the website — a map, if you will — that tells the search engines about the organisation of the content on the site.
Why is this necessary for your site? We’re glad you asked:
Sitemaps Are SEO Boosters
When a sitemap is used and submitted to the search engines, it helps the search engines to better understand how the site is organised, thus making it easier for web crawlers like Googlebot to intelligently crawl.
When a sitemap is used it tells the crawler which files you deem to be important, while including valuable SEO feeding information, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and if there are any alternate language versions of a page. This all helps to make the site algorithmically favoured.
Sitemaps Are User Pleasers
Building a sitemap before creating a website drastically improves the build when the business considers how users will want to navigate the site and then go on to build it in a way that achieves that.
Users today are fussy and spoilt with plenty of places to find information and goods online. If a website is clunky and difficult to navigate, they will bounce onto another one, which provides them with a smoother experience. Bounce rates negatively impact SEO and sales, smooth navigation boosts them.
Sitemaps Fix Internal Linking
When referring to sites with properly linked pages, Google says “our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site.” While usually has a reasonably optimistic tone, most businesses will want to ensure that Googles crawlers are always discovering the valuable pages of the site.
Whether a business has properly linked pages or content that is isolated or not well linked, a sitemap can act as a bridge to bring the content together, rather than reviewing every page to improving linking.
Sitemaps Set You up for Success
Sitemaps and strategy go hand in hand. Building a sitemap helps to keep focused on the goals of the site and ensuring that something is created that matches these goals.
What is more, any new sites with few external links need to use a sitemap to help crawlers find their pages.
3 Signs You Need a Sitemap: From the Mouth of Google
Google favours sitemaps, so it’s worth consulting them to learn more about when a business needs to introduce a sitemap.
When your site is really large
Google web crawlers may overlook new or recently updated pages if there is no sitemap.
When your site has a large archive of content that is isolated or not well linked
If the site pages don’t naturally reference each other, a sitemap will ensure that Google doesn’t overlook any pages.
When your site is new and has few external links
Web crawlers crawl the web by following links from one page to another. If you don’t have links, Google might not discover your pages.
Website Sitemap Tools
Site mapping, while incredibly valuable and necessary, can be quite time-consuming when done manually. Thankfully, there are a plethora of sitemap tools on the market today to make the process much smoother and more time effective.
We recommend Slickplan. This online sitemap tool allows businesses to fast track the design and planning of the website, saving time and resources while achieving an easy to navigate, results-focused, SEO and user-friendly website.