Sitemap optimization is one of the critical factors in technical SEO. It helps to increase the number of visitors and pageviews on your website. XML sitemaps are highly beneficial for search engines as they contain all the URLs that you want them to crawl and index.
Search engine crawling has got very complex nowadays; hence not all your pages will get indexed. So you need to ensure that your sitemap only contains relevant URLs that you want to get indexed.
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a layout of your website that assists search engines in finding, crawling, and indexing all of the material on your website. Website maps can provide search engines with information about which pages on your site are the most essential.
A sitemap allows search engines to find and index your content more effectively. This means that it helps improve your rankings and traffic.
A sitemap also allows users and search engine robots to navigate your website easily. If you don’t have a sitemap, users will find it difficult to know where to go next when navigating your website.
Types of Sitemap
There are four types of sitemaps.
An XML sitemap is an XML file that lists all URLs from your website. The XML sitemap should be placed in the root directory of your website. You can create an XML sitemap using any text editor, Notepad, or TextWrangler. If your website is built on WordPress CMS, then plugins like Yoast and Rankmath will do the job for you!
You can also add news articles to your sitemap to write exciting news stories. News sitemap is different from other sitemaps because it does not list out all the URLs on the website. Instead, it provides links to the latest news articles.
Images play an essential role in web design and development. Images represent products, services, brands, logos, etc. For example, if you own a restaurant, images of food items will help attract customers. In addition, images are also used to enhance the user experience. Therefore, an image sitemap is essential for websites that feature significant images.
If you have videos on your website, you may use a video sitemap instead of an XML sitemap.
However, due to video schema, video sitemap has been replaced with it to reduce the time consumption while creating video sitemaps.
How To Proceed With Sitemap Optimization?
The following steps will guide you on how to proceed with sitemap optimization:
First, we will check the hygiene of your sitemap as mentioned below:
- Include Your Key Pages Only
When creating a sitemap, you must include only those URLs that are important to your business. Otherwise, your sitemap will look cluttered and unorganized. If you create an XML sitemap, have only the URLs you want GoogleBot to crawl, index, and rank. These pages are knowns asto as ‘key pages’ since they are the ones that drive traffic and generate revenue for you. There is no need to include URLs in your sitemap that contribute to your website’s search engine optimization efforts.
- Remove Orphan, 404 & Redirected Pages
All URLs listed in your sitemap should point to existing pages on your website. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Some pages might be orphaned, redirected, or otherwise inaccessible. Such pages cannot be crawled by search engines and therefore won’t appear in their results.
If your orphan page is relevant, you should link that page to the main content. Redirected or 404 pages need to be removed from the sitemap so you do not waste your crawl budget
- Remove No-Value Pages
Some pages on your site are not helpful to visitors. These pages are called ‘no-value.’ Examples include login forms and tag pages as these pages do not have any content and can waste your crawl budget. You can remove such pages from the sitemap.
- Remove Canonicalized URL To Another URL
You should remove those URLs with a canonical tag to another URL. It is similar to emptying the redirected or noindex pages. As value passes on to another canonical URL.
XML Sitemap Optimization For Robots
Now that we have fixed the errors in the sitemap, it’s time to optimize it for better crawling of your pages.
- Adding the Sitemap URL To The Robots.txt
You will need to let search engines know where it is located to start using it. The simplest way to do this is to add the sitemap location URL to the Robots.txt file. Robots.txt file is the first that search engine robots crawl.
- Create Dynamic Sitemap For Big Websites
Big websites may require multiple sitemaps. This is because each sitemap contains all the pages on the website. But, big websites have thousands of pages. So, creating separate sitemaps for every single page would be inefficient. Instead, you can use dynamic sitemaps. A dynamic sitemap allows you to list all the pages on your website without manually entering them into the sitemap. This saves your precious time.
- Submit Your Sitemap In Google Search Console
It’s better to submit your XML sitemaps to Google search engines which can be performed using Google Search Console.
To submit the sitemap in GSC go to Index > Sitemaps > Enter The Sitemap URL > Submit
If your website is dynamic and you have fresh content in a period, ensure that you check the Last Read date of the sitemap and keep it updated.
In conclusion, I hope this article has helped you understand how to optimize your XML sitemap and make sure that it works well with your website. If your website is facing a sitemap or any other technical issue, kindly opt for our technical SEO services so that you are optimized for robots for better crawling, rendering, and indexing! Contact us to know more. If you need more help please feel free to Apply to Work With Us