In the ever-ending quest of improving SEO, site maps sit high on the list of tasks to tick off when working on your SEO. However, unlike other SEO tasks, a sitemap isn’t as crazy to try and figure out and implement.
In fact, if you have a spare ten minutes, you could actually use a plugin to submit a sitemap today. But more on that later. First of all, let’s start out with the basics.
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap, is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s a map of your website. This sitemap gets submitted to search engines and helps the search engine to crawl and index the pages and content on your site.
In its simplest form, a sitemap is a string of URL’s combined into an XML file. The URL’s have the meta data that you have inputted for your URL’s and content attached to the URL’s. The purpose of these maps is so search engines can understand how your website works, what it’s about, and how it links not to only the other parts of your site, but also within your niche. All in, site maps help contribute to your SEO by helping to index your pages and content.
Why do I need One?
Well, technically, you don’t.
That’s right, I’ve written a whole blog post telling you that you need something that you technically don’t need. Genius, eh?
Google themselves have said that if your site is well linked, then it should be able to index your site properly. I say ‘should.’ There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, including:
- A very large website
- A new website with few to no external links linking to it
- There is a lot of ‘rich’ media on your blog (think videos, pictures, etc)
- You have a lot of archive content which is not well indexed
Most new blogs will fall into at least one of the above types of site, even if it’s just ‘a new website with few to no external links linking to it.’ Therefore, if you’re a new blogger, or your blog is relatively new, my short answer to this question would be: ‘Yes, you need a sitemap so as search engines can correctly index your blog.’
Just because you submit a sitemap to search engines, it does not mean that Google or any other search engine will index every single part of your site. Generally speaking, you will benefit from having a sitemap, but Google is run on algorithms as opposed to a simple notion of submitting a sitemap and everything being indexed. If only it were that simple!
But think of it like this, a sitemap contributes to just one part of SEO; it’s not everything. Therefore, a sitemap is helpful to indexing your site and it being found. But, you can’t rely solely on having a sitemap as the only part of your SEO strategy.
When you submit your sitemap, it can take a while for search engines to pick it up and crawl it. Just because you’ve submitted your sitemap, it doesn’t mean that you can expect to rank of search engines instantly, or even within a week. In fact, it can take at least a couple of weeks for search engines to properly crawl and index your site.
So if you’re waiting for your sitemap to take effect, take the opportunity to work on other areas of your blog!
How do I submit a sitemap to search engines?
The simplest way of submitting a sitemap to search engines is using an SEO plugin. AIOSEO and Yoast both have functions in their free versions which enable you to submit a sitemap with a couple of clicks of a button. In fact, Google even recommend using plugins or the service which comes with platforms such as WordPress to create and submit your sitemap rather than making one yourself.
Submitting a sitemap via Google Console
If you don’t use a plugin for SEO (and if not, you really should be! It makes life so much easier and can really help your ability to be found by search engines!), then you can submit a sitemap straight to Google. The only downside of this is that you then need to submit a sitemap to each other individual search engine out there.
Yes, Google might be the biggest search engine in the world, but there are still multiple other search engines out there which people use, including:
Using an SEO plugin to create and submit your sitemaps means that it’s a process that has been taken care for you. You therefore don’t need to worry about submitting a sitemap to each search engine.
If you still want to go ahead and submit your sitemap to Google Console yourself, this video from Google walks you through the required steps:
This post was proofread using Grammarly.