One of the first thing you should do as a website owner is include a sitemap. A sitemap is page or file that list all the pages of your website either in a human friendly format or web crawler / spider friendly format. In the past, we’ve explained how to create a sitemap, and in this article, we look at five reasons why you should include a sitemap for your site.
- It’s one of the quickest way to automatically optimize your website. Having a sitemap is a very easy method for optimizing a website. This “map of the website” provides an organized setting to find the various pages or sections of the website. This help creates a much simpler navigation for both human visitors and search engine spiders. In a way, it highlights the pages of your website that should be included in a search engine index and read by your visitors.
- A XML sitemap format facilitates Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While the sitemap is not a new concept, it used to be disregarded by many webmasters, until SEO professionals discovered that as part of a site’s design, it facilitates navigation by web spiders. The way that sitemaps facilitate SEO is that search engines read the sitemap to index the pages of a website and ultimately, rank it. Since ranking is the name of the game in SEO, it goes without saying that sitemaps play a critical role in any website’s online marketing strategy.
- Web page format sitemaps create a more user friendly website. The easier that visitors can navigate your website, the better their experience will be. A frustrated web visitor who can’t find his way around your site will leave it sooner than later. This is not what any website owner wants to see happen. The longer a user stays on your site, the better the chance that they will “bond” with the content and what you have to offer. This is why having a text sitemap is also essential for human readers. To assuage any worries about duplicate content with a text and XML sitemap in place, Google has eliminated any chance of being penalized, by allowing two sitemaps for each website.
- Faster website indexing. Generating a sitemap and submitting it to search engines will help it get indexed faster. The faster your website is indexed, the quicker it will appear in the search engines for the relevant search terms used by those searching for the information, products and services you provide. This can easily translate to higher conversion rates in terms of turning web visitors into customers. A lack of sitemaps will often require you to get more external links to you site (what we call “link building”) so that the search engines can eventually find it and index it. A good sitemap will make your site less dependent to external backlinks.
- Easy website updating. In order to remain current in the search engines, it is good practice to update a site regularly. For new sites and those with large numbers of new pages, the sitemap can keep search engines continually aware about site updates. This also assists the search engines to classify the information the site provides.
Keep in mind that search engines do change their algorithms, but an up to date and relevant sitemap remains relevant and important. Using a third party tool to generate sitemaps make submitting it to search engines even easier. These five reasons really make the case to have sitemaps in place for your websites, in order to help you achieve the highest rankings possible in the search engines.