Importance Of Sitemaps For Your Websites

May 11, 2023

Importance Of Sitemaps For Your Websites

Website Design

Just like you need a roadmap to reach a novice destination, your site’s visitors and Google crawlers need it too. In terms of SEO, this roadmap is known as the SITEMAP. 

While sitemaps have been around for over a decade, their significance is yet in suspicion in 2023. Almost every SEO expert will tell you that having a sitemap is a MUST, even today.

So, why sitemap is important for a website? An Ahref study shows that sitemaps can lead to a 24% rise in the number of pages indexed by search engines. This clearly explains the importance of a sitemap.

As the best SEO and web designing company in Melbourne, Digiwhiz has been insisting its clients add a sitemap to their site. We know the importance of a sitemap and how it can help boost our client’s businesses in the online space.

Through this blog, we will share what a sitemap is and why it is important in SEO. 

What Is A Sitemap?

A sitemap lists the most crucial pages of your website. It makes sure search engines can find and crawl such pages easily. Further, sitemaps enable crawlers to understand your site’s structure, making navigation easier.

In other words, a decent sitemap is like a roadmap of your site, allowing search engines to find all your significant pages instantly. It doesn’t depend on whether or not your website has any internal linking structure. Sitemaps are not just crucial for search engines but are also equally useful for visitors searching for a specific page on your site.

Based on the purpose they serve, i.e. navigating search engines and end-users, sitemaps are classified into two:

  1. HTML Sitemaps
  2. XML Sitemaps

Types Of Sitemap

  • XML Sitemaps

It is the most common type of sitemap that helps search engines crawl and discover pages on your site. XML sitemaps provide your site’s URL and a complete map of all pages on your site. This way, search engines can prioritise the pages they will crawl. These are mostly present in the root folder of your domain. 

For example 

Here are some rules for creating an XML sitemap:

  • Can have a maximum of 50,000 URLs (crawl budget)
  • Can accommodate uncompressed file size limit of 50MB. 
  • If you exceed either limit, you must split the URLs across multiple XML sitemaps.
  • You can then combine these sitemaps into a single XML sitemap index file, which is your sitemap for all other sitemaps. Consider it a tree (index) with many branches (multiple sitemaps).  

For example: Your sitemap index can have a number of sitemaps, such as Product Sitemap, Blog Sitemap, Landing Pages Sitemap, and Category Sitemap. You can also create and add image and video sitemaps to it.

An XML sitemap is handy for large websites that might otherwise take longer for a crawler to crawl through the site. If there’s no sitemap, making a list of all the pages would be difficult until they perform a complete search of the entire website.

In short, XML sitemaps are an efficient way for spiders to queue up all the pages they want to serve.

  • HTML Sitemaps

Another common type of sitemap that serves website visitors. It helps them locate a specific page, making site navigation faster and easier. Generally, HTML sitemaps are linked in website footers. An HTML sitemap is a clickable list of all the pages on a website.

From the main pages to the secondary pages, an HTML sitemap must include every page on your site. To understand it better, consider it as a well-organized table of content.

NOTE: For search engines to find each of your sitemap files easily altogether, make sure to:

  • Specify your sitemap index URL in your robots.txt file.
  • Submit your sitemap index to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console.

Other types of sitemaps include image sitemaps, video sitemaps, and news sitemaps.

Which Pages To Avoid Listing In Sitemaps?

You must exclude certain pages from your sitemap, including:

  • Duplicate pages
  • Non-canonical pages
  • Archive pages
  • Parameterised URLs
  • Paginated pages
  • URLs created by filtering 
  • Pages blocked by robots.txt
  • Site search result pages
  • Any redirections (3xx), server error pages (5xx), or missing pages (4xx)
  • Pages that can be accessed by a lead generation form (eg, PDFs)
  • Pages with no-index
  • Utility pages (wishlist/cart pages, login page, etc.)

Why Sitemap Is Important For A Website?

Here are some reasons why you should have a website sitemap even in 2023:

  • Sorting Big Websites

With time, your website is bound to grow. Whether you add new service or product pages to it or blog pages, websites will grow in its size.

However, having a lot of pages on your site can confuse the visitors about where to go or what you offer. You can understand this if you have ever used an e-commerce website.

A sitemap works the same as the shopping mall map. Suppose you want to find a specific brand showroom in an 8-storey mall. Then, a sitemap can help you find it instantly. You don’t have to visit every floor/store to see if your favourite brand is located there. 

In short, if a user gets lost on a large website, a sitemap is their last resort to locate where they want to go.

Similarly, if you keep updating your site with new pages, a sitemap is a good way to inform search engines about it. This will ensure they do not miss crawling or indexing new pages.

Further, an individual who maintains the stock of every page can benefit greatly from a sitemap. They can ensure the website has a “home” somewhere on it.

  • Define The Website’s Purpose 

An HTML sitemap is a content-based document that can help explain the unique value of your website. You can further leverage this benefit by using SEO to determine the most unique and relevant keywords to have on your sitemap.

Using anchor text is a good way to make a page more relevant to certain keywords. If there aren't many links connecting pages, a sitemap is a simple way to create relevant anchor text.

  • Speed Up Web Page Crawling 

You should assist search engines in every way possible and take control of your website wherever possible. This includes helping them find and prioritise your content in the crawling process.

Search crawlers actually prefer to use HTML links to explore the web. An HTML sitemap can draw attention to important pages on your website. You can submit the text version of your sitemap to Google.

  • Serves As An Architectural Blueprint Of The Website 

The sitemap can serve as a tool for managing your website. It helps keep track of the structure and connections between pages and ensures that there is a clear hierarchy and site taxonomy. Every page should have a designated place in the sitemap.

A well-organized sitemap is like a well-planned daily schedule. Just like a well-planned schedule can make a busy person's life easier, an organised sitemap can be more useful for everyone. It is important to have a clear website structure so visitors can easily find what they are looking for.

  • Boost Search Engine Visibility 

In some cases, Google and other search engines may not index every webpage of a website. This can happen if there is a link on a webpage that the bots follow. However, they do not return to continue indexing the rest of the pages. The bots want to ensure the link is relevant but may not continue indexing the remaining pages.

HTML sitemaps give these bots a clear picture of your site and all its pages. As a result, this can simplify the bots’ job. Plus, they may stay longer to follow the page navigation created for them.

A clean site taxonomy and hierarchy are significant for both users and crawlers. You can link as many pages to your sitemap. For example, LinkedIn has a sitemap with links to its millions of user pages.

  • Determine Areas For Site Navigation Improvement

Expanding your website often creates the risks of duplicate pages or content. This can be troublesome for search engines.

However, once you map out everything, you can find and remove all the duplication using a sitemap. Here’s the catch: This only works if the sitemap has an owner who checks it periodically.

Additionally, if you use analytics tools, you may find that more visitors are using the HTML sitemap instead of the navigation menu. This indicates that the current navigation is not meeting their needs and requires reassessment.

It's crucial to assess the site architecture and determine how to improve it to make it easier for visitors to find the information they seek.

The Final Say 

Now you know what a sitemap is and why it is essential for your website. While it won't boost your search ranking at once, it will gradually help in indexing, automatically leading to a better website ranking. This means that having a sitemap will surely be a good investment for the future.

If you are unaware of how you can design and add a well-laid sitemap to your website, contact the best website design agency in Melbourne at Digiwhiz. We are not just experts in web designing but also specialise in digital marketing. So, if you have any queries regarding the sitemap, call us today, and we will develop a well-designed website sitemap for you.

For more details about our services, Book a Meeting.

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