If you are doing SEO for a new website or any old website. XML plays a really important role in SEO WORLD. Being a digital marketer, I strongly recommend you to learn WHAT, HOW, WHEN it is used. To answer these questions, let’s have an overview of XML Sitemap.
What is an XML sitemap?
The XML sitemap is basically an important aspect of on-page SEO. When it comes to the XML sitemap, it plays a vital role for Google to crawl your website completely. Basically, It determines the structure of the website that which pages your website needs to crawl and index at Google.
XML stands for “Extensible Markup Language”. It tells the GOOGLE how to display information. It gives all information in the machine-understandable format.
but now the question arises, WHY we actually need it? If the GOOGLE algorithm is really smart that it actually detects our all information when we logged in. then why it asks us to create an XML sitemap to tell Google what to crawl and what to not?
Basically, Google crawlers are not actually so smart yet as compared to human intelligence. If you tell GOOGLE, Hey! This… this my site has pages please index it. then it will be easy for Google to crawl and index your website because you helped Google.
If you read a book that has no table of contents. Do you like that book? Just like that, sitemaps acts as a table of contents for your website.
If you update your website’s page after 2 days, sitemap tells google to update your website page, and also to find deep important information about your website.
If you do not use sitemap, then it will be not good for your site SEO and may result in duplicate content of your website.
More importantly, sitemap is important to get your site index and rank your site fastest!!! but this is not visible to visitors.
Now the question arises, Is there any sitemap that is for humans related? Where humans can understand their own website structure.
The answer is. Yes! It’s called HTML sitemap. Let’s have an overview of it
What is an HTML sitemap?
HTML sitemap is for your audience! it provides navigation to your website visitors. To find out where each page is placed i-e Contact Us, About Us, and shopping cart, etc.
The core difference between XML sitemap and HTML sitemap is that XML sitemap is for google crawlers and HTML sitemap is for your website visitors.
Both sitemaps are important for any website. Although the usage of both sitemaps is different. There are many websites that still use HTML sitemaps.
Why do we need an XML sitemap?
Suppose you are creating your new website that definitely has no backlinks, if you have submitted your site on XML sitemap then it will be easy for Google to crawl and index your site all pages.
XML sitemap will give you all details about your site like when the page was last modified <lastmod> </lastmod>
It gives you details how often page is modified <changefreq> </changefreq>
Which page has highest priority than other pages of your site <priority> </priority>
If you want to delete some damaged 404 pages/posts from your website that are already indexed by google then you can add those pages URL in the Removals tab of Google Search Console. After 1-2, Google will update these changes in your site.
XML sitemaps has equally importance for both popular heavy content websites or for new websites.
Types of Sitemaps:
There are different types of sitemaps discussed below:
This is one of the most popular and common types of sitemap that helps Google to index and rank your website pages. It’s in the form of an XML sitemap
This type of sitemap helps Google to understand the video content of your website. It provides additional information about the video of your website. For more information click here
It helps Google to find sites that has content approved by Google News.
It helps google to find all images of your site.
How to create a XML sitemap?
if you are wordpress developer, then you can easily create XML sitemap by yoast SEO plugin.
You just need to go to your wordpress dashboard < plugins < Add New Plugin. Search for Yoast SEO and hit enter.
Install and activate your first search result. Now you are ready to create sitemap with simple steps:
Go to Yoast SEO plugin < general tab. It will show you some tabs related to SEO. Find the XML sitemap tab and click on the question mark symbol.
Then, it will allow you to create sitemap. After creating sitemap, your sitemap will be look like this.
You can check your website sitemap by writing on google search (URL / sitemap_index.xml). For example https://iqrablogger.com/sitemap_index.xml.
- If you want to check all pages of the site: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml.
- To check all posts of your site: https://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
- likewise, you can check videos of your site: https://www.example.com/video-sitemap.xml
Congratulations! Now your site has XML sitemap.
But what if you are not a WordPress developer? Don’t worry you can still create XML sitemap by XML sitemap generator.
Enter your website URL here and start your sitemap automatically. After creating a sitemap, I recommend you take a look at your XML sitemap.
How to create XML sitemap by Screaming Frog?
There is another amazing way to create a sitemap by using a screaming frog. This is one of the famous software to create a sitemap. It doesn’t matter either you own the website or not. Either website is brand new or 10 years old. It doesn’t even need your website to be logged in. You just need your website URL to be crawled just.
Now, you might be thinking… If it provides such features then it must be costly. No, it’s not. It is absolutely free up to 500 pages to be crawled. Then you need to take its premium services.
Free Version is absolutely free with some limitations. Although, paid version $149 per year with unlimited access.
To get this software, first you need to download this:
After downloading, Open its interface and enter your URL and press start button to start crawling.
Now it will take few moments to crawl your website. It depends upon your site size that how much it takes time to completely crawl your site.
Once your site is completely crawled, it will look like this:
Click on the sitemap button, It will ask you two options either XML sitemap or images sitemap. Select XML sitemap or images sitemap according to your requirement. If you select sitemap it will pop-up this screen.
Now you will be confused by watching this, but lets have a brief introduction to all this:
Noindex means you are asking Google “DO NOT INDEX” your pages. So, obviously, you don’t wanna do this so we need to uncheck it
In canonicalised you are asking Google to crawl multiple URL that are pointing to same page. So keep it unchecked.
Paginated URL is actually pointing to your navigation like previous and next pages. Be careful if you are going to select this because it can be harmful to your SEO practice. Although I recommend you to let it unchecked.
Include PDF You can have this option if you want your XML sitemap in your PDF. Google allows XML sitemap in PDF format. and it will doesn’t affect your SEO structure so you can go with this option. Click on the Next option.
If you don’t know about other options then leave them as it is and select the destination where you want to save you XML sitemap in your computer.
How to create XML sitemaps by Google XML sitemaps?
If both of the above solutions don’t work for you then you can create an XML sitemap by Google XML sitemap plugin of WordPress. Basically, this is an alternative solution to the Yoast SEO plugin. So, let’s discuss how to install and activate this plugin so easily.
Firstly, Download Google XML sitemaps
Secondly, Activate this plugin, it will automatically create XML sitemap for you.
Thirstly, You can view your sitemap either it is created correctly or not? Type www.example.com/sitemap.xml
If you still need to check anything, Go to its setting panel and do the setting. Although the default setting performs well for some blogs and business websites.
How to tell Google about your XML sitemap?
To submit sitemap at google. Go To Google search console and logged In. You can use your existing Gmail id or create a new Gmail id. keep in mind use that email that is your active one.
Enter your URL in URL prefix and press continue button.
Here, you will find multiple ways of verify ownership. I am going to discuss most simplest one by HTML code.
Copy this code below and paste it in your wordpress site.
To paste code in WordPress, you have different ways. If you are not familiar with code, then you should go for the Insert header and footer plugin. Although you can paste it in WordPress < Appearance < Theme Editor < Header.php. and paste it in <head> </head> tag. and click on the verify button.
If your verify ownership becomes successful, then it will show you your site stats after 24 hours. Now, scroll down and go to the index tab and click on the sitemaps tab.
It will give you an option to Add URL of your sitemap to get submit. After submitting sitemap, it will look like this.
If it shows success, it means Your XML sitemap is successfully submitted to google. If it shows an error, then you can check yoast common XML sitemap errors.
How to tell Bing about your XML sitemap?
Submitting a sitemap to bing is not a bad option. Although it has a small amount of traffic as compared to Google to spare some time to submit your XML sitemap is really good for your SEO strategy.
Here is a few steps to do that:
- Login to your dashboard of webmaster tools.
- Find the sitemap widgets
- Submit the sitemap.
- Enter the URL of your file location and hit the submit button.
How to tell Yandex about your XML Sitemap?
Yandex is basically the Russian version of Google and it occupies 45% of search results in Russia. It also provides other services i-e streaming music, email, and online payment services. sounds good? then why don’t we use this platform as well for ranking our site there? It’s worthy enough to reach a larger audience and make your site GLOBALLY famous.
There are few steps to submit your site:
- Go to the sitemap site pages and choose your sitemap from there.
- Add the URL of your XML sitemap and click on the submit button.
- It will take about 1-2 weeks to upload your sitemap properly. Once it has done, check it once either it is working or not? If it shows any error, submit it again.
Hope so, this article will be helpful for you. If you have any question, ask me in the coment section.