A sitemap is a file that provides information about pages, URLs, videos and other files that are present on a website. A sitemap also tells the crawler which files are important on a website.
There are two types of sitemaps:
- HTML Sitemaps
- XML Sitemaps
XML Sitemaps are further divided into the following types:
- Image Sitemaps
- Video Sitemaps
- News Sitemaps
- Mobile Sitemaps
1) HTML Sitemap
An HTML Sitemap is for the users. It helps visitors navigate across the website easily.
The following is a screenshot of an HTML Sitemap:
2) XML Sitemap
It helps bots to crawl the website in a better way. It also helps them understand which are the most important URLs in a site.
The following is a screenshot of an XML Sitemap:
<lastmod>, <changefreq> & <priority> are a few tags which can be included in an XML Sitemap:
- The <lastmod> tag carries the date of the last modification of the file. The <lastmod> tag should always be in the format of YYYY-MM-DD
- The <changefreq> tag tells the crawler how frequently the page is changing.
One of these values – always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly should be present in <changefreq> tag.
- <priority> value can range from 0.0 to 1.0.
The priority tag is used to signal the importance of individual pages to Google & other search engines
In this case, 1 is the highest and 0 is the lowest
If the <priority> value is not set for a particular page then by default the value is 0.5.
Types of XML Sitemaps
2.1) Image Sitemap:
- An image sitemap is for images.
- Having an image sitemap helps images get featured in Google Image Search
- <image:image> and <image:loc> tags are mandatory tags for an image sitemap
- <image:caption>, <image:title>, <image:title> and <image: geo_location > are optional tags for an image sitemap
- The following is a screenshot of an image sitemap:
2.2) Video Sitemap:
- Similar to the Image Sitemap, a Video Sitemap helps videos get featured in SERPs
- It helps bots better understand video content
- <url>, <loc>, <video:video>, <video:thumbnail_loc>, <video:title>, <video:description>, <video:content_loc> and <video:player_loc> are mandatory tags for a video sitemap
- Here is a screenshot of Video Sitemap
2.3) News Sitemap:
- This sitemap is compulsory for news websites
- News Sitemaps cannot contain articles which are published more than 2 days priorly
- News Sitemaps cannot contain more than 1000 URLs
- If there are more than 1000 URLs, break these URLs into multiple sitemaps and use a sitemap index file
- Having a news sitemap helps articles get featured in the “News Section” of Google SERPs
2.4) Mobile Sitemap:
- According to John Muller, there is no need for Mobile Sitemap for a mobile-friendly website
- A Mobile Sitemap is only required if you have a specially formatted version designed for mobile devices
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