When it comes to SEO and marketing, you must learn many Google ranking factors to increase your search engine visibility.
It consists of; generating content ideas, keyword research, producing high-quality content, backlinks, auditing your site, etc. Working on these steps is time-consuming and requires lots of hard work.
But when it comes to some easier SEO techniques that deliver high value, one of them is –creating an XML sitemap and submitting it to Google.
Even if you’re committed to the long journey of blogging, you’d much rather push a few buttons to get more traffic: less effort and big wins.
Even though an XML sitemap is a “technical” part of SEO, it’s not difficult to make one. Also, it’s not that “technical” either.
You could create a perfect XML sitemap in just a few minutes. It’s not about coding; you have to know how to click.
It’s a super easy, free, and relatively simple way to improve your SEO.
Let’s give it a try!
What is an XML Sitemap?
XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language.” It’s a way of displaying information on sites. This is an example of an XML sitemap,
An XML sitemap is a list of a website’s URLs. It maps out the website’s pages and structure.
The question is, why should you even have an XML sitemap?
Purpose of an XML Sitemap
Search engines use crawlers to find your site’s pages to index. It is important because Google ranks your website PAGES, not just websites.
These crawlers read information, but an XML sitemap is an easy way for the crawler to index your site.
A well-structured sitemap is an important factor for ranking.
Sitemaps give page update signals to search engines; when a page was updated, the frequency of updates, the importance of pages within site, and how to find and index content within the site’s structure.
Information in a sitemap looks like this;
- Pages location on the website (its URL): <loc>http://www.xyz.com/mypage</loc>
- Priority of the page to other pages on the site: <priority>1</priority>
- Last changes made: <lastmod>2021-05-17</lastmod>
- Frequency of changes: <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
What happens if you aren’t using a sitemap?
Your website will be showing duplicate pages/content, which is a bad sign for SEO.
In addition to that, a sitemap is a quick and easy way to get indexed by Google.
With a sitemap, Google gets an idea about your site and the pages you want to index. Google will crawl your site within few minutes and index your content.
Benefits of an XML Sitemap
If you’re still unsure and asking yourself that “do you need a sitemap?”
Let me help you to answer it too,” yes.”
It only takes a few minutes and gives you these benefits of an XML sitemap:
- It provides information to Google to crawl and index your site.
- The XML site map tells what to crawl on your website.
- It tells Google about the information on your website.
- The XML sitemap tells Google about your content updates.
- The XML sitemap tells Google about the frequency of your content updates.
- It helps your website instantly get indexed for dynamically-generated pages.
- It helps to overcome the barrier of a website with weak internal linking.
- It helps to overcome the problem of not yet having a strong external link.
- It helps Google crawl your website more productively.
- It shows all the pages on your website to Google, even if they are deep within the architecture to crawl quickly.
There is 3 step process to create your own XML sitemap.
Step:1. Create your XML sitemap.
Step:2. Add your XML sitemap to your website.
Step:3. Submit your XML sitemap to Google.
Create an XML sitemap without a CMS
You can create an XML sitemap for any website with a desktop-based program, Screaming Frog.
You don’t need,
- Size of the website or website’s age
- To own the website/ have login access
You can use Screaming Frog for free crawling for up to 500 pages.
But if your website has more than 500 pages, you will need to purchase a Screaming Frog license for crawling.
Let’s create an XML sitemap for any website using Screaming Frog’s free version.
- Open Screaming Frog and type your URL into the top box.
- Now click start.
- It takes a few minutes to few hours to crawl your website, depending on your website’s size.
- Once you finish crawling, the status bar will display “100”.
- In the menu bar, click “Sitemaps.”
- Now click “Create XML Sitemap.”
- Now choose which sections of your site you want to include in the XML sitemap.
Here is an explanation of each tab.
- Noindex Pages: Noindex pages have HTML code in the header, telling the search engines not to include the page in the search index.
- Canonicalised: It means more than one URL pointing to the same page of content on a website.
- Paginated URLs: A paginated URL includes rel= attributes (rel= “prev” and “next”) to navigate through a series of content on a website.Do not check this box.
- PDFs: Google indexes all kinds of content, PDFs included. I recommend that you have PDFs in your XML sitemap, as long as the PDFs on your website are essential.
Remember, a sitemap is for SEO, and If you want people to find your website’s pages, then include it in the sitemap.
For now, let’s check the box “include PDFs.”
If you are not sure about “Last Modified,” “Priority,” and “Change Frequency,” please leave them by default.
- Now include images in a sitemap by clicking the “Images” tab.
- Here, click “Include Images.” And 3rd box will be checked automatically.
- Press “Next.”
- You’ll be prompted to save the created XML sitemap on your device, click “Save.”
- Here you go! Congratulations, you’ve created an XML sitemap for your website.
- Now, all you have to do is, upload this file to your website via FTP.
- You must submit it to search engines for crawling. Otherwise a sitemap means nothing.
How to submit an XML sitemap to Google?
Once you have created an XML sitemap file, let’s learn how to submit it to Google.
First of all, connect your Google Search Console account with your website.
Follow this the step by step guide by Google.
Once connected, log in to your Google Search Console account. Now select your website in the top left corner.
- Click on the sitemaps on the Google Consol’s dashboard as shown below.
- See the “Add a new sitemap” option and enter your sitemap URL in the blank space.
- Now press the submit button.
Congratulations!! You are done with the XML sitemap’s submission. Now, Google will take care of the rest; you sit back and relax
Many local business owners, entrepreneurs, and website owners get afraid when they hear the term “XML sitemap.”
Because It sounds a technical term, even If you’re not an SEO or a computer expert, it’s not that hard to create and submit an XML sitemap.
You can create sitemaps easily in 10 minutes by using programs like Yoast or Screaming Frog.
But if you have zero knowledge about sitemaps, the entire process from start to finish may only take 20 minutes.
If you’ve never made an XML sitemap for your website, create one today to get SEO benefits.
Once you’re done, perform a technical SEO audit to check all other issues on your site.
Kindly share your experience of creating an XML sitemap for your website.