Why Your Website Needs an XML Sitemap
Even though XML sitemaps have been around since 2015, it is surprising that there are so many websites that do not have one. Sitemaps have become a critical component of SEO because they tell search engine bots and spiders the structure of your website so they can easily crawl the website and find all its essential pages and posts, even when its link structure is not perfect.
What is an XML Sitemap?
A sitemap is a file that is attached to your website, which outlines all the different files that are on the websites as well as all the URLs on a specific website. This way, a business can tell search engines the pages it would like to be included on search engine result pages. Because it is hierarchical in nature, a sitemap also helps bots and spiders know which pages and posts to prioritise.
Making it Easier to Digest Your Content
One of the reasons why your website should have a sitemap is because it helps search engines digest your content easily and interpret what your website entails. This is particularly useful for businesses that have a lot of products and services which they discuss on their websites. By having a comprehensive and well-organised sitemap, a business can help search engines make and understand the connections between its various products and services and increase the possibility of these products and services appearing on search engine result pages.
A Sitemap Can Help Videos and Images Rank Higher
A common SEO strategy that is often overlooked is the use of video and image results to increase traffic to a website. Many people start product searches on image search result pages and if your images are not being found there, you are missing out on a lot of traffic.
Additionally, people are more likely to visit your website if an explainer video or a video that provides information on what they are looking for pops up on their result pages. Businesses can help improve their image and video ranking by including image and video URLs on their sitemaps.
For images, their URLs on the sitemap can be enough, but it is better to create a separate sitemap for videos hosted or embedded on your website. Including additional metadata will help bots better understand what your video is about and present it to search engine users.
Sitemaps Help Get More of Your Website Pages Indexed
If you sell lots of products and services, which means you have lots of pages on your website, you want as many of them as possible to be indexed. Search engine bots use your sitemap to discover new content or additional pages. This means that if you have lots of pages, a sitemap increases the chances of all of them getting indexed as search engines will use your sitemap to discover these additional pages.
Do note that there is no guarantee that your pages will rank higher, but a sitemap can get many more of your website pages indexed and ranked.
Every website needs a sitemap if the business behind it wants to increase its online reach. While a sitemap is one element of your website that most people might never see, it works in the background to help your ranking, as well as your business’s visibility, discoverability and growth.