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What is a Sitemap – Introduction to XML Sitemaps In SEO

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Have you ever imagined how Google or other search engines would discover your website? Well, there is something called as search engine bots that helps the website appear on the search engine. In the case of Google, these bots are termed as “Google Spiders,” “Google Bots,” or “Google Crawlers”.

Google spiders are always on the run to explore anything they can crawl. They keep on exploring the web via moving from one links to other, that could be internal (moving within the websites) or external (going to a different site).

Since Google is the most preferred search engine, having your website, and all of its essential pages on it is crucial. Due to the increasing sizes and complexity of the site, Google developed a new protocol back in 2005, which was designed to use the XML format. This protocol is known as “XML Sitemap”.

So, What is Sitemap? What are the types of Sitemap? What are the benefits of having a sitemap? Too many questions are running in your mind. Do not worry; we have answers to all of them.

What is Sitemap?

A “Sitemap” or “XML Sitemap” is a file that contains a list of all the important pages of a website. The reason for having all of them stored in one file “XML Sitemap” is that it helps crawlers to find all the pages in one place, instead of discovering them via internal links.

What does a sitemap look like?

This is how a sitemap looks like. It contains various tags in it:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

<lastmod>2020-04-01</lastmod>

<changefreq>daily</changefreq>

<priority>0.8</priority>

</url>

</urlset>

  1.  <urlset> – This is the current protocol standard, and the Sitemap opens and closes with this tag.
  2. <url> – This tag is known as the parent tag of each URL’s entry.
  3. <Loc> – Here goes the URL of your page.
  4. <lastmod> – This tag contains the information of “what was the last modified date of the file.”
  5. <changefreq> – This tag contains information about how frequent the file would change. It could be the content within a site or even the slightest modification. It can be set to hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, always & never.
  6. <priority> – This tag represents the importance of the URL. The value can range anywhere from 0.0 to 1.0.

Check out this video to know more about sitemap

Why is Sitemap important?

A Sitemap has a significant role to play in SEO. Google bots/crawlers or any other search engines bot, for that matter, discover pages through internal linking. There are high chances that your important pages can be left out during the crawling process if the internal linking is improper.

No businesses or individuals would want their essential pages to be left unindexed. To avoid such risks, it is always recommended to have an XML Sitemap, since it contains all the URLs of a website to crawl.

What are the types of Sitemap?

XML Sitemap are of 4 types. They are

  1. Image Sitemaps
  2. Video Sitemaps
  3. News Sitemaps
  4. Mobile Sitemaps

To know more about these sitemaps, you can read “types of sitemap” explained in detail.

What are the benefits of having a sitemap for a website?

Having a sitemap for your website could prove more benefits than otherwise.

  1. Once you list all the URLs of your website in the sitemap, this helps search engines crawler to discover and crawl all the pages efficiently.
  2. Within a sitemap, you can set priority to URLs. Once you set this priority, search engine bots will focus more on these URLs over others.
  3. You can change information like “last mod” or “change frequency” of a URL. So, what is “Last Mod”? As the terms speak, “Last Mod” means when was the page was modified last time. While “change frequency” as it says, indicates how often would a page change. “Last Mod” or “change frequency” are essential. When you update “last mod” or “change frequency” details, the crawlers notice this and begin to crawl again to index any content that was updated.

XML Sitemaps are crucial for search engine bots as they provide all the important pages at one place with priority set for every page. This is why having an XML Sitemap for any size of the business has become essential. You can create a sitemap using multiple tools.

To know more about the same you can read the article, “How to Create a Sitemap and submit to Google.”

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