Sitemaps are collection of links contained in a website. It includes all pages, images, videos and files.
Why Sitemaps are important for websites?
By submitting sitemaps, website owners request Google to index all the included links so that it starts appearing in search results faster.
It’s not always necessary to submit sitemaps. But there are cases where pages are skipped by search engine bots and remain unindexed for months. This may happen either because the page isn’t properly linked from other pages or has a bad coding. Search engine bots follow links, it follows links and moves from one site to another and from one link in a site to another. So if a website isn’t linked to any website or very few websites, it’ll be less frequently visited and indexed by search engine bots.
Sitemap, in a way is a way of reaching out to search engines when they can’t reach us or reach us not that frequently.
How to create Sitemap?
The easiest way of creating sitemap is using xml-sitemaps.org. All you need to do is to enter your website name and submit. It’ll browse through the website and create sitemap in 4-5 minutes. Once completed, download the sitemap and upload to your website’s root folder. The only downside with this service is that it collects 500 urls only so if your website has more than 500 links including images then you need to find another option.
Second option is to create a free xml sitemap using php or use a WordPress plugin.
Sitemap Generated. What next?
Once the sitemap is generated, next step is to submit it to Google webmasters. It’s a Google service which allow website owners to manage their website, view stats and submit sitemaps.
After you’ve added your website, follow the steps to submit sitemap to Google webmasters,
1. Login to Google webmasters and select your website clicking the site name.
2. Go to Crawl>Sitemaps.
3. Click on the red ‘Add/Test Sitemap’ button. A text input will appear. Enter sitemap url on the server and click on ‘Submit Sitemap’. You could also test sitemap before submitting using ‘Test Sitemap’ button.
4. A message of successful sitemap submission will appear. And that’s it. You’ve successfully submitted sitemap for your website to Google webmasters.
5. All the pages will index within 24 hours and it’ll start appearing in search engine results.