Sitemaps have been used throughout the internet for over a decade to guide search engine crawlers through any given website. The importance of sitemaps is somewhat understated nowadays, with many SEO specialists doubting if they are even useful at all anymore. However, the head of Google’s SEO development, Matt Cutts, states that he considers sitemaps to be an extremely important element to SEO practices, and implores those involved with SEO to continue using them on their websites.
Sitemaps, as the name implies, are just a map of your website—on a single page you demonstrate the structure of your site, its sections and pages, the links between them, and so on.
Sitemaps make navigating your website easier for search engine crawlers and also allow humans to survey your website in one page, so having a sitemap uploaded to your website is great for both search engines and users visiting your site. Sitemaps continue to be an important way for you to communicate with search engines. They have always been part of the best SEO and web design practices, and with the adoption of sitemaps by search engines, they continue to grow in importance.
Benefits to Using a Sitemap
Using a sitemap has many benefits besides providing easier navigation and better visibility for search engines. Sitemaps offer the unique opportunity to inform search engines immediately about any changes on your website. While it takes the search engines some extra time to index your changes, it will certainly help the changes be indexed quicker than they would if you didn’t employ a sitemap. Also, when you have a sitemap attached to your website and submit that to a search engine, you rely less on external links to bring search engines to your site; sitemaps can even help with messy internal links. For example, if you accidentally have broken internal links or even orphaned pages that cannot be reached any other way, the sitemap is able to help search engine crawlers locate these breaks.
One of the biggest reasons to use a sitemap is if your site is new or if you’ve been renovating your site and have a lot of new links within it. If your site is new, adding a sitemap to it will become the standard way to submitting a page to search engines, and while it is certain that crawlers will come to your site eventually, creating and submitting a sitemap to a search engine will increase the index time of your new site considerably.
Submitting Your Sitemap
After creating and uploading your sitemap to your site, you’ll need to notify Google of its existence. When it comes to creating your sitemap, there are many third party tools online that will help you generate it for free, but Google also helps provide a package to create one as well. Notifying Google about your sitemap includes adding the site to your Google Sitemaps section in your Webmasters tools. Once in your Webmaster tools, there is a button in the top right corner for you to add your sitemap too, and the Webmaster tools will monitor how many pages are located within your site, and how many have been indexed by Google—for optimum search results, these numbers should be the exact same.
The red button at the top right is where you can add the sitemap, and the graph displays pages on the website versus pages scanned and indexed by Google.
One somewhat inconvenient feature seen many times with the sitemap is that every time you change a URL or delete a URL from your page, you’ll need to update the sitemap with this change of information, otherwise Google will continue to index dead or broken pages on your site, which will diminish your SEO and SERP ranking. Part of Hyperlinks Media, LLC’s Houston SEO package is an automated sitemap created, stored, and submitted by the Hyperlinks team. One amazing feature of our automated sitemap is that when changes to the internal site are made, the sitemap updates these changes automatically, so even if it manages to slip your mind from time-to-time, it won’t matter because it does everything on an automatic system. For more questions about our automated sitemap and the rest of our amazing SEO features, contact Hyperlinks Media, LLC today and request a quote and appointment!