Time to add to that SEO best practices checklist! There’s a way to send Google a signal to crawl and index your content faster, and we’re here to teach you all about it. Hint: it’s called a sitemap, and it comes with plenty of benefits. So let’s cover what a sitemap is and why you should have one.
What Is A Sitemap?
Every website is made up of a complex series of pages that interact with each other in some way. Google has to have a system to find and index all this content, and so sitemaps were created. Sitemaps are your best friend when it comes to launching a new website or updating a large portion of your content. You might be asking yourself now, “What is a sitemap, and why do I need it?”
A sitemap is a file embedded in your website that tells Google how and where all of your content connects. Including a sitemap on your website helps Google find all of the pages you want crawled and indexed. Google is also able to better understand information about each page, like post date or how frequently you update your site. When building a sitemap, you can format it as an XML, RSS, or plain text file. Check out this sitemap example below:
There are also different entries you can add to sitemaps to organize your content for Google. An image entry may be useful if your website design is incredibly image-heavy. Video entries are great for letting Google know the length of your video and if there are any age restrictions. The more information you can give Google in your sitemap, the better it can scan your site and start showing your content on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Do I Need A Sitemap?
Including a sitemap on your website can never really hurt, but there are particular circumstances when a sitemap is recommended.
The first instance where you should consider including a sitemap is when first launching your website. Google’s crawling system will naturally find new content over time, but having a sitemap can help speed up the process of getting your content indexed and appearing on SERPs.
Content, Content, And More Content
Another reason to create a sitemap is when your website has a large number of pages, especially if you are constantly updating them. The bigger your web of content is, the easier it is for Google to miss pages. Your sitemap can help Google find more of your content than it might on its own.
Lastly, websites that rely heavily on media like videos and images may benefit from creating a sitemap. Letting Google know the content of your media can improve search results if the media is relevant.
How to Find A Sitemap
So now we know what a sitemap is, but how do we find a sitemap? There are a few different ways to find a sitemap example on a website.
Using Google’s search tricks, you can find a sitemap right from the Google search bar. If you know the file type you are looking for, you can type in your query such as “site:markitors.com filetype:txt” to find a sitemap on the Markitors website. If you’re not sure what kind of file a sitemap was created as, you can search if they have a URL with the sitemap included, like “site:markitors.com inurl:sitemap:”.
The quickest way to find a sitemap is if it’s been placed on a robots.txt file. Googlebots also use robot.txt files to figure out where to go next, so a robots.txt file is also the most beneficial place to embed a sitemap. Head to the URL bar and type in the name of the site followed by “/robots.txt”—like “https://markitors.com/robots.txt”—you should be led right to a website’s sitemap.
Another common way to find a sitemap is through a manual search. Next time you type in a website URL, try adding “/sitemap.xml” to the end. XML sitemaps are the most used file, so typically, the sitemap will pop up with that URL. If a simple “/sitemap.xml” doesn’t bring you to the website’s sitemap, you may need to try different variations such as “/sitemap-index/xml” or “/sitemap.txt” until it appears.
Building a sitemap might be another task to add to your to-do list, but it’s a great way to give Google an extra push to find your content. Get started today on building your sitemap with the help of Markitors’ technical SEO specialists.