What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a holistic outline of every individual page and URL of a website. Common sitemap formats include visual charts or XML files. While a visual chart is more viable for personal or organizational use, XML files are far more beneficial for SEO purposes. Search engines like Google and Bing read XML files in order to locate and index the pages of a website. A sitemap is imperative to online ranking because it informs search engines about the content on your website and enables them to index its pages more easily. Without a sitemap, the internet cannot properly direct traffic to your website and its SEO value will plummet.
Why Do I Need One?
Sitemaps can be created manually or using tools like CMS add-ons or online generators. A powerful sitemap is formatted to demonstrate a strategic hierarchy of pages. The goal is to direct search engines and traffic to the most important pages on your site. These pages typically include a lot of unique written content, dynamic content such as images and videos, optimized end user experience, and high engagement through features such as user comments and reviews.
Once you have finalized your sitemap, the next step is submitting it to Google Search Console. This step is technically optional but absolutely necessary to ensuring proper implementation and effectiveness of your sitemap. This notifies search engines of your online presence and prompts them to crawl your website sooner rather than later.
While a sitemap is not mandatory for creating a website, it is absolutely necessary for SEO value and garnering new traffic to a website. Without one, it is much more difficult and time-consuming for search engines to crawl and index your pages. A proper sitemap present the URLs and pages of a website in a way that enables Google and other search bots to easily identify its structure and purpose. This results in higher search rankings for your website and higher return on investment.