There is an overwhelming number of web pages out there and every one of them wants to be seen, the only thanks to navigating this ocean of content are via search engines.
On the user’s end, it’s a simple process. Type something into Google, Yahoo, or Bing and, voila, a neatly prioritized list of results.
Behind the scenes, however, there’s tons of work happening to arrange those results. Search engines need help to seek out appropriate content.
That help comes from sitemaps.
Table of Contents
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a map of your website that indexes relevant pages, so search engines can read them.
For example, at some moment when you Google “what is visual voicemail?” Google knows what pages to rank based on sitemaps, and perceived values of those URLs, so as to answer that question.
It might prioritize informative URLs like blog posts.
Alternatively, if you were to Google just “best business phone app”, Google would prioritize reviews and products.
You want people to seek out your site. But, you furthermore may want people to remain there and find it useful. the best way to ensure both is to optimize your sitemap.
Use WordPress Plugins to create Sitemaps Automatically
There are tons of great WordPress sites with plugins that can design and create webpages and automatically generate a sitemap for you.
WordPress plugins are apps that allow you to add new features and functionality to your website.
WordPress companies will have a strong understanding of SEO, so it’ll remove tons of the trial and error involved in producing your own sitemaps.
Consider Dynamic Sitemaps
Whenever your website changes, your sitemap will have to be updated to reflect those changes, ensuring bots are being directed to the latest content your website has to offer.
Doing this manually can be time-consuming, especially for larger sites.
Instead, you’ll create a dynamic sitemap.
A dynamic sitemap will automatically update your sitemap each time changes are made to indexed pages. It’s faster and uses fewer resources.
It’s an excellent option for large sites with numerous engagements.
Something like a CCaaS provider, for example, provides cloud-based communication software to third parties, via their own software.
Naturally, they will have frequent traffic from different businesses. they could use a dynamic sitemap to reflect the constant changes in user engagement, making them preferable in program rankings.
Test Your Sitemap
Before submitting your sitemap to search engines, run tests to ensure every index is accounted for. After testing, fix the issues.
This can be tricky. Search engines can only tell you that indexes aren’t being read. They can’t point to which of them aren’t being read, or why.
Try rearranging sitemaps based on specific criteria and submitting individually.
For example, resubmit your sitemap indexing pages with images, or video feeds. If those specific URLs have problems, you’ll deduce that the problem is with images or videos.
Quality Over Quantity
Search engines value high-quality pages.
High-quality pages have relevant, original content. Ideally, they will have images, videos, and high engagement (comments or reviews from users).
Low-quality pages are those that, while important, aren’t what users are searching for.
For example, let’s say your site provides cheap web hosting.
Your sitemap could index home pages, product pages, or blog posts – high-quality pages that people are useful to users.
You shouldn’t index an URL for checkout, or customer complaint page. Though they are related, they are not what users are searching for. If people are directed to those pages, they will presumably leave, increasing churn.
Including them in your sitemap will make search engines think the whole site is lower quality, rank it lower on search engine results.
Don’t Make Your Sitemap too large
There’s a limit to what search engines can handle.
The limit is high; 50,000 URLs per sitemap for Bing and Google, and most sites won’t reach it.
Even if you don’t, you ought to avoid extraneous URLs so there’s plenty of room for your sitemap to grow.
If you do reach that limit, split one large website into smaller sitemaps and submit them separately.
Don’t Trick the search engine
Sitemaps use timestamps to notice the last time a URL has changed. It’s a useful feature because it means any content updates will be registered by search engines and marked as up-to-date content.
Some people use this feature to trick search engines, changing the date so that it’s considered recent content and prioritized in search engine results.
This doesn’t work. Search engines have caught onto this and can check for any actual changes to URL content when its date has changed. If nothing important has changed, it can be flagged, and have its timestamp removed altogether.
So, any time you make modifications, only change the date if they’re substantial changes that add value.
For example, if you sell business communication tools, they’re likely to change as technology progresses. So, you’ll probably be adding new content to old URLs to keep up with the times. These are relevant changes and should be reflected within the modification date stamp.
If you’re going back to old URLs to make fairly trivial changes, like design and formatting, don’t change the date stamp. If you do, search engines will assume you’re trying to cheat, and consider them as lower quality.
Don’t Waste Crawl Budget
We mentioned before that there’s a limit to the number of URLs an inquiry engine can read per sitemap.
This is referred to as a crawl budget.
As it’s limited, be selective about which URLs you would like to be recognized.
You can use a “no index” tag to prevent certain URLs from being read. You’d use this for utility pages that you simply don’t want showing up in search results, like payment portals.
You’re telling search engines to ignore certain URLs, but it still counts toward your overall crawl budget, so consider removing them altogether.
Keeping them in with a no-index tag will preserve link equity. You’re telling the system it’s a crucial part of your website, with links to other parts of your site, but won’t be useful in search results.
Points to Ponder
SEO practices are ongoing. You’re trying to get noticed in an ever-shifting mass of online content. As such, your content, and sitemaps are going to change as you continue to optimize.
So, don’t expect to get perfect results overnight. respond to research and feedback and stay consistent with your good SEO practices.
Do this, and you’re giving your website the best possible chance because it steps into the wider world.