Are you ready to set sail with your new vessel? Before you set sail, it’s important to make an inventory and see if anything is missing: check your pockets for a map.
The sitemap, initially used to facilitate user navigation, has begun to take on considerable importance for the scanning of new sites by the crawlers, the search engine software.
These software are like little boats, and their job is to roam back and forth across the realm of Google in search of new ships in order to scanning e index their contents, i.e., to be able to include them within the search engine index.
It is precisely in this scanning activity that a XML sitemap, a map showing small boats which route to follow and where to land.
Creating and submitting a Sitemap to the search engine means allowing crawlers to access all of the site’s content and all of its information in order to scan it, catalog and use to respond most appropriately to the searches of users.
For a thousand whales! Don’t know which fish to catch? Let’s set off together on an assault on Google’s kingdom.
Difference between HTML and XML
Care must be taken not to confuse two different types of sitemaps:
- in format HTML, useful for visitors;
- in format XML, useful for the search engine.
A simple sitemap is a web page, often present in a visual manner as well, that helps visitors easily navigate the site by listing all pages following a hierarchy.
Like when on your ship you make it clear who’s in charge between you, your officers, and your crew. Understand?
The second format on the other hand gives directions to crawlers, giving them a hand in scanning and indexing the site, and is only searchable by users if you know the link.
So while the first manages the crew this one governs the internal elements of the ship exactly like an inventory of the food in the hold.
To summarize, the type of sitemap you must use in order to be easily found by the search engine is surely an XML sitemap while the use of an HTML sitemap will affect theusability.
What is the sitemap
Since the copy and indexing operations take a long time, creating and sending a sitemap to the search engine becomes the best solution for facilitate and speed up the work of crawlers.
Thanks to a map with the exact route to follow, the small boats only have to hoist their sails and reach their landing place quickly. Without a map they could take a long time, lose their way or even decide to change their destination.
A sitemap is a file that contains the URL address of every element of your site that you want crawlers to crawl, such as pages, images, videos, news, and other important files inside.
Sometimes you can also use extensions to describe some multimedia content through valuable information, AS:
- the date of creation and last update, the frequency of changes, and possible multiple language versions of your pages;
- the duration of the videos, the category and the eligibility rating by age group;
- the theme, type and license of the images.
You can use them mostly for content difficult to analyze in order to improve site indexing.
To put it bluntly, if you were to provide information to another captain about your favorite rum you would certainly refer to alcohol content, aging, provenance and more.
The advantages of a sitemap
If your site’s pages and content are linked correctly neither the engine nor the user will have any problem finding and visiting most of the content.
However creating and submitting a sitemap to the engine constitutes huge advantages in that it allows:
- a crawler scan of the site in a way that efficiently;
- an indexing process that is certainly more fast;
- a smarter indexing.
Holy buccaneers! You don’t want to set sail without a course!
Without a map and without knowing your site’s content, it’s possible that software will take longer to find and scan pages, slowing down in turn the indexing process, or even running aground at some bottom with no idea where to navigate.
Afraid the crawlers will lose their way and not index your site? Hire a crew that knows all the secrets of maps.
It’s still possible for many pages on your site to appear in the SERPs without submitting a sitemap, but creating and submitting one is a great way to make sure that all content can be found.
For some websites it often turns out essential To greatly facilitate the work of the engine, for example:
- when the site is very large size – without the map, crawlers might neglect to crawl some new or recently updated pages;
- when the site has isolated pages or that are not connected properly to each other – crawlers may get lost and not find them;
- when the site is new and is not linked to any external links – software follows links and visitors to find and learn about new sites;
- when they are present numerous multimedia files – the sitemap can help the engine understand video and image files or news especially if you want them to show up in the SERP.
So, if the characteristics of your boat fall within these examples you will definitely need a sitemap to sail smoothly in the realm of Google.
In any case you have to keep in mind that a sitemap doesn’t necessarily guarantee that all elements within it are scanned and indexed.
How to create and submit a sitemap
Once you have decided which pages of your site should be scanned you can create the sitemap manually or use a series of third-party tools o sitemap generators.
There are several ways to make the sitemap available to the search engine such as:
- if you have a CMS use some plugin that not only automatically send it to the engine but also create and update it;
- add it to the robots.txt file;
- load it manually inside Google Search Console .
Aye Captain, now that you understand how important the role of a sitemap is for indexing your website you just have to tackle this new adventure!
Have a safe trip!