Creating an Effective XML Sitemap for Your Company’s Website

Creating an Effective Sitemap for Your Company's Website

If you are familiar with website design, you are probably aware there are a number of types of site maps, from layout design to HTML; but when it comes to boosting your company’s SEO, then an XML sitemap is what you should be using. If you are unfamiliar with sitemaps, you still need to understand what an XML sitemap is and how it can aid your company’s website. This point is especially true if your company depends on e-commerce and needs to be highly visible in order to make a profit. Why is XML effective in aiding SEO? In order to understand, a closer look is needed.

Why an XML Sitemap?

What is a Sitemap?

First, if you don’t know what a sitemap is, it is a webpage list (guide) designed so that search engines can sort through your website’s content quickly. When a user types a keyword or phrase into a search engine to find a something, the search engines use a sitemap to check the newest pages on a website or page; this includes things like videos, images, blogs, and more. A sitemap is a visual arrangement of your website content structure which is explicitly designed for both people and search engines. A sitemap serves two main purposes. First, they allow website designers to organize the layout of a website. But, a website’s layout is a framework that directs links on a webpage to the pages to which they belong. Second, a search engine’s web crawler will index and organize various websites using the sitemaps to keep their indexes current.

How is an XML Sitemap different?

An XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemap is not extremely complicated. Still, a novice should not attempt to implement it themselves; a web design specialist should be used if you are not familiar with sitemaps. Basically, an XML text file is used to detail all of a website’s URLs. It may include additional details (metadata) on the URLs, with information regarding when their last update was, their importance and if there are any alternative versions of the URL created in languages other than English. The purpose of this is to aid in the search engines crawling your website more effectively, enabling any changes to be sent to them directly, including details regarding when a new page was added or a previous one removed. The most common analogy used by web designers when describing an XML sitemap is to compare your website to a house or building and the landing or product pages as rooms and that the XML sitemap is the blueprint; detailing where each room is and what is inside. It really does make it easier for search engines to find your company’s website and to trust it.

Should You Set Up an XML Sitemap on Your Own?

The answer to this question is simple, as previously stated unless you have a certain level of expertise in dealing with sitemaps, then you should not attempt to set up your own XML sitemap. Hiring a professional agency will ensure that the job is done right. If you attempt to create an XML sitemap and you have no previous experience with sitemaps, you could end up doing more harm than good. In your enthusiasm for coding your own website, you may remove something vital in the existing site map that will significantly reduce your visibility to search engines, or worse, make them think you are using copied content because there is no site map anymore. Google, in particular, is highly suspect of websites with no sitemap and could end up penalizing your site or even blacklisting it. Your SEO efforts will be for naught if you are invisible to, or have been banned by search engines.

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About the Author

Though his chief ambition is to one day control the entire Internet, Jim busies himself in the meantime running our little web development and marketing agency. He's a certified super nerd who ranks coding in old, outdated languages and watching Star Trek reruns just a bit too high on his list of fun things to do. Outside of work, Jim enjoys Hockey (Tampa Bay Lighning, to be specific), more genres of music than most people realize exist, riding his Harley (he calls it "two wheel therapy") and exploring the world through travel.