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- Find what you're looking for on the idrivesafely.com sitemap.
- A sitemap is an XML file listing all the important content on your website. Any page or file that you want to show up in search engines should be in your sitemap.
Apr 17, 2020 Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site. Sitemap 0.90 is offered under the terms of the Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License and has wide adoption, including support from Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.
When it comes to getting your website ranked, you need to take advantage of as many SEO hacks as possible. Creating a sitemap is one technique that will definitely help improve your SEO strategy.
What is a sitemap?
Some of you may be more familiar with this than others. I’ll give you a quick crash course on the basics of sitemaps before I show you how to build a website sitemap on your own.
Simply put, a sitemap, or XML sitemap, is a list of different pages on a website. XML is short for “extensible markup language,” which is a way to display information on a site.
I’ve consulted with so many website owners who are intimidated by this concept because sitemaps are considered a technical component of SEO. But in all reality, you don’t need to be a tech wizard or have a tech background to create a sitemap. As you’ll learn shortly, it’s really not that difficult.
Why do you need a sitemap?
Search engines like Google are committed to displaying the most relevant results to people for any given search query. In order do this effectively, they use site crawlers to read, organize, and index information on the Internet.
XML sitemaps make it easier for search engine crawlers to read the content on your site and index the pages accordingly. As a result, this increases your chances of boosting the SEO ranking of your website.
Your sitemap will tell search engines the location of a page on your website, when it was updated, the updating frequency, and the importance of the page as it’s related to other pages on your site. Without a proper sitemap, Google bots might think that your site has duplicate content, which will actually hurt your SEO ranking.
If you’re ready for your website to get indexed faster by search engines, just follow these five easy steps to create a sitemap.
Step 1: Review the structure of your pages
The first thing you need to do is look at the existing content on your website and see how everything is structured.
Look at a sitemap template and figure out how your pages would be displayed on the table.
This is a very basic example that’s easy to follow.
It all starts from the homepage. Then you have to ask yourself where your homepage links to. You likely already have this figured out based on the menu options on your site.
But when it comes to SEO, not all pages are created equal. You have to keep the depth of your website in mind when you’re doing this. Recognize that the pages further away from your site’s homepage will be harder to rank for.
According to Search Engine Journal, you should aim to create a sitemap that has a shallow depth, meaning it only takes three clicks to navigate to any page on your website. That’s much better for SEO purposes.
So you need to create a hierarchy of pages based on importance and how you want them to be indexed. Prioritize your content into tiers that follow a logical hierarchy. Here’s an example to show you what I’m talking about.
As you can see, the About page links to Our Team as well as Mission & Values. Then the Our Team page links to Management and Contact Us.
The About Us page is the most important, which is why it’s part of the top-level navigation. It wouldn’t make sense to have the management page be prioritized at the same level as Products, Pricing, and Blogs, which is why it falls under third-level content.
Similarly, if the Basic pricing package was positioned above the Compare Packages page, it would throw the logical structure out of whack.
So use these visual sitemap templates to determine the organization of your pages. Some of you may already have a structure that makes sense but just needs some slight tweaking.
Remember, you want to try to set it up so every page can be reached in three clicks.
Step 2: Code your URLs
Now that you’ve gone through and identified the importance of each page and matched that importance in your site structure, it’s time to code those URLs.
The way to do this is by formatting each URL with XML tags. If you have any experience with HTML coding, this will be a breeze for you. As I said earlier, the “ML” in XML stands for markup language, which is the same for HTML.
Even if this is new to you, it’s not that tough to figure it out. Start by getting a text editor where you can create an XML file.
Sublime Text is a great option for you to consider.
Then add the corresponding code for each URL.
- last changed
- changed frequency
- priority of page
Here are some examples of how the code will look for each one.
Take your time and make sure you go through this properly. The text editor makes your life much easier when it comes to adding this code, but it still requires you to be sharp.
Step 3: Validate the code
Any time you code manually, human error is possible. But, for your sitemap to function properly, you can’t have any mistakes in the coding.
Fortunately, there are tools that will help validate your code to ensure the syntax is correct. There’s software available online that can help you do this. Just run a quick Google search for sitemap validation, and you’ll find something.
I like to use the XML Sitemap Validator tool.
This will point out any errors in your code.
For example, if you forget to add an end tag or something like that, it can quickly be identified and fixed.
Step 4: Add your sitemap to the root and robots.txt
Locate the root folder of your website and add the sitemap file to this folder.
Doing this will actually add the page to your site as well. This is not a problem at all. As a matter of fact, lots of websites have this. Just type in a website and add “/sitemap/” to the URL and see what pops up.
Here’s an example from the Apple website.
Notice the structure and logical hierarchy of each section. This relates back to what we discussed in the first step.
Now, this can be taken one step further. You can even look at the code on different websites by adding “/sitemap.xml” to the URL.
Here’s what that looks like on the HubSpot website.
In addition to adding the sitemap file to your root folder, you’ll also want to add it to the robots.txt file. You’ll find this in the roots folder as well.
Basically, this to give instructions for any crawlers indexing your website.
There are a couple of different uses for the robots.txt folder. You can set this up to show search engines URLs that you don’t want them to index when they’re crawling on your site.
Let’s go back to Apple and see what their robots.txt page looks like.
As you can see, they have “disallow” for several pages on their site. So crawlers ignore these.
However, Apple also includes their sitemap files on here as well.
Not everyone you ask will tell you to add your sitemaps to the robots.txt file. So I’ll let you decide that for yourself.
With that said, I’m definitely a firm believer in following the best practices of successful websites and businesses. If a giant like Apple uses this, it can’t be too bad of an idea for you to consider.
Step 5: Submit your sitemap
Now that your sitemap has been created and added to your site files, it’s time to submit them to search engines.
In order to do this, you need to go through Google Search Console. Some of you may already have this set up. If not, you can get started very easily.
Once you’re on the search console dashboard, navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps.
Next, click on Add/Test Sitemap on the top right corner of the screen.
This is a chance for you to test your sitemap again for any errors before you continue. Obviously, you’ll want to fix any mistakes found. Once your sitemap is free of errors, click submit and that’s it. Google will handle everything else from here. Now crawlers will index your site with ease, which will boost your SEO ranking.
While these five steps are pretty simple and straightforward, some of you might be a little uncomfortable manually changing the code on your website. That’s perfectly understandable. Fortunately for you, there are plenty of other solutions that can create a sitemap for you, without having to edit the code yourself.
I’ll go through some of the top options for you to consider.
If you have a WordPress website, you can install the Yoast plugin to create a sitemap for your website.
Yoast gives you the option to turn your sitemap on and off with a simple toggle switch. You can find all of your XML sitemap options from the SEO tab via WordPress once the plugin has been installed.
Screaming Frog is desktop software that offers a wide range of SEO tools. It’s free to use and generate a sitemap as long as the website has fewer than 500 pages. For those of you with larger websites, you’ll need to upgrade the paid version.
Screaming Frog allows you to make all of the coding changes that we talked about earlier, but without actually changing the code yourself. Instead, you follow a prompt that’s much more user-friendly, and written in plain English. Then the code for the sitemap file will be changed automatically. Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean.
Just navigate through the tabs, change your settings, and the sitemap file will be adjusted accordingly.
I really like Slickplan because of the visual sitemap builder feature. You’ll have the opportunity to use a sitemap template, similar to the ones we looked at earlier.
From here, you can drag and drop different pages into the template to organize the structure of your website. Once you’re done, and you’re happy with the way your visual sitemap looks, you can export it as an XML file.
Slickplan is paid software, but they offer a free trial. It’s at least worth trying if you’re on the fence about purchasing a plan.
If you’re ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level, you need to create a sitemap for your website.
There is no reason to be intimidated by this anymore. As you can see from this guide, it’s easy to create a sitemap in just five steps.
- Review your pages
- Code the URLs
- Validate your code
- Add the sitemap to the root and robots.txt
- Submit the sitemap
For those of you who are still on the fence about manually changing code on your website, there are other options for you to consider. The Internet is full of sitemap resources, but the Yoast plugin, Screaming Frog, and Slickplan are all great choices to start.
Other Guides That You May Like
XML sitemaps are a great way to ensure your site is crawled and indexed properly. Learn how to take control and build your own!
When it comes to creating an XML sitemap, a car analogy works best. Sure, automatic is great. It’s convenient and affords you an extra hand to turn up that Adele song you love to sing along to terribly. But any driving enthusiast will tell you that a manual shift gives you a closer connection to the vehicle and to the road, and that’s exactly what we’re after – more connection. More control.
These days, there are many options for automating the creation of XML sitemaps, whether through a plugin or an online sitemap generator. Some are better than others (the Yoast plugin for WordPress does a pretty good job), but the machines haven’t replaced us just yet. Automation still does not measure up to a carefully-constructed sitemap by hand. So roll up your sleeves and follow these steps to create and submit custom XML sitemaps that represent your site better than any plugin or tool can.
Step 1: Know What You’re Looking For
An XML sitemap is essentially just a list of the pages that make up your website. But the key thing to remember is that we are only concerned with pages that should be in Google’s index.You don’t want to put a login page or a post-purchase “thank you” page on your sitemap, for instance. Before you set out to gather up the URLs of the pages on a site, let’s ask a simple question:
“Is this a page that should be in Google’s index?”
If you’re a bit more versed in SEO, you can also ask:
“Does the page return a 200 status code?”
“Does the page self-canonical?”
Doing this exercise will give meaning to everything we encounter in Step 2.
Step 2: Collect Your Pages
Now that we know exactly what we’re looking for, let’s go find it! In the first part of this step, we’re going to gather up all of the website’s URLs. The easiest way to do this is with a crawler like Screaming Frog, which can quickly crawl the pages of your site and spit out a list of URLs.
Alternatively, you can simply follow each of the site’s main navigation options down to their deepest level (also known as a human crawl). This is actually the method I prefer. If the site isn’t too big, it’s a great way to learn about the navigational logic and user-friendliness of your site.
Let’s use Go Fish Digital’s site as an example. Before I toss it into a crawler, I’m going to browse it manually and gain some insights. My first takeaway, as is often the case, is from the main navigation.
On the far left, we have a logo and branding, which links to the home page. You guessed it – the home page URL is going in the sitemap.
On the right, we have About, Services, Blog, and Contact.
Right away, I’m going to begin grouping. The About and Contact pages are more general pages, like the home page, so I consider those three URLs as a “General” section of the site.
Next, we have Services and Blog.
Services has a drop-down menu – this is a perfect reason to group these pages together!
Then, the blog. I’ve only displayed 3 posts here, but there are a lot more blog posts on GFD’s site. This is where a crawler would come into play.
Would you look at that? We now have the site sectioned out nicely. With our URLs grouped together like this, we can make a beautifully-organized sitemap!
Step 3: Code Your URLs
Battle chess game of kings download apk windows 10. If you’ve applied Step 2 carefully to your website’s pages, you now have a list of URLs that need to be formatted with the appropriate tags. XML is a lot like HTML – in fact, the “ML” in both stands for “markup language.”
For this step, you’ll need a text editor so you can create an XML file. I highly recommend Sublime Text. They offer a lifetime license key, and it will serve your SEO and text-editing future better than the finest hound.
a.) Let’s begin with an opening <urlset> tag:
b.) Next, add your first URL with the appropriate <url> and <loc> tags:
c.) When you’ve entered your last URL, simply close the <urlset> tag:
Now that you know the different tags, get your eyes used to looking at a simple XML sitemap. Here is what the finished product would look like:
Step 4: Validate Your Sitemap
*Please note that the validation method below does not seem to be working consistently anymore. I am seeing perfectly valid sitemaps that are validating in Google Search Console fail the validation test below. As of November 25, 2019, the best method for validating your XML sitemap is to submit it within the Google Search Console account for your specific website.
Now it’s time to run your sitemap through a validator to make sure all the syntax is correct. Go ahead and save your file and name it sitemap.xml. Then, visit https://validator.w3.org/#validate_by_upload and upload your XML file. Hopefully, you see this message:
If there are any errors, the validator will quote the line that contains the error so you can go back into Sublime Text and easily locate it.
Step 5: Add It To The Root
Next, you’ll want to add your sitemap file (sitemap.xml) to the root folder of your site. This can be done locally, through FTP or (ideally) by a developer. Adding your sitemap file to the root folder means that it will be located at yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. This is true for a lot of sites! Trying picking a couple of sites you regularly visit and type “/sitemap.xml” after the TLD (the “.com,” “.net,” etc.).
Step 6: Add It To The Robots(.txt)
A robots.txt file is a simple text file with instructions for the crawler that is visiting your site. The file exists in the root folder, so you can probably guess where it’s located – yoursite.com/robots.txt. One of the lines you can add to your robots.txt file is the “Sitemap:” line. This will ensure that the crawler goes and checks out your perdy, custom XML sitemap. Here’s how the the line would look, assuming your site is secure (HTTPS):
Apple.com has a number of “Sitemap:” lines in their robots.txt file (https://www.apple.com/robots.txt):
Adding a line to your robots.txt file that points to your sitemap is somewhat debated as effective, but the purpose of this guide is to be thorough, and it is still a best practice I see utilized by many top SEOs and successful websites.
Step 7: Submit Your Sitemap
We gathered, we grouped, we tagged, we validated, and we added to the root. Now we’ll discuss how to submit your sitemap to Google and Bing. Doing so can improve the indexation of your site! Please note that I’m assuming you have Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools accounts set up.
How to submit a sitemap to Google
a.) Sign into your GSC account.
b.) Click Crawl > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap
c.) Enter “/sitemap.xml” into the available field and submit your sitemap!
How to submit a sitemap to Bing
a.) Sign into your BWT account.
b.) Click Configure My Site > Sitemaps
c.) Enter the full URL of your sitemap and submit your sitemap!
Check in periodically (but not obsessively) to ensure your sitemap URLs are being crawled. It is NOT uncommon for only part of your sitemap to be crawled. In fact, we rarely see a sitemap crawled in its entirety. That’s asking a lot and the major search engines love to be coy.
(Bonus) Next-Level Sitemapping: Creating an Index
The whole point of a sitemap is to make the pages of your site as crawler-accessible as possible. To do this, we present them in a simple, organized list. If you want to take order to the next level, you’ll want to create a sitemap index.
A sitemap index is an XML file that refers to a number of individual XML sitemaps. For Go Fish Digital’s site, we could make an individual sitemap for each grouping we created in Step 2:
We would add each of these files to the root folder of the site and point to them within a sitemap index, which uses its own XML tags:
We would then name the sitemap index, validate, add it to the root folder, and submit it within the search engine consoles for Google and Bing – no need to submit each individual sitemap! The index will take care of everything. Additionally, you can add a “Sitemap:” line to your robots.txt file that points to the index, rather than pointing to each individual sitemap (looking at you, Apple).
A sitemap index with individual sitemaps represents the highest level of organization and is a superb way to present the indexable pages of your site to the major search engines.
Make Your Map(s)!
Sitemap For Website
Whether you’re looking at your own site, a friend’s site, or a client’s site, you now have some great guidelines for creating a meaningful XML sitemap or sitemap index. So build your own custom sitemap and take charge of your SEO, learn more about your website, and cut the fat caused by automation.
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