Sitemaps generally fall into two categories. One is a HTML version which is for human visitors and helps them navigate through the entire site and find the information they are looking for. The other Sitemap is an XML version which is meant for the search engine to know about all the pages on the website including all the URLs that may go unnoticed by the search engine spidering the site.
There are many advantages of using sitemaps which are listed below:
A sitemap helps a visitor know where to find particular information he is looking for on the site. It acts as a guide to enable easy navigation through the site without wasting time to find information.
Search Engine Indexing
Sitemaps help search engines know about any updates that you make on your site. It is not guaranteed that the search engine bot will immediately index the updated pages, but, the changes will surely be indexed much faster compared to when there isn’t any sitemap.
If you have a new site with very few links in it, sitemaps can be very helpful. This is because the search engine spider crawls through documents by following links from one page to another and if your site does not contain proper links, it would be difficult for the bots to index them.
If you have a site that contains a lot of content pages which are not properly linked to each other or have broken links then using sitemaps will help search engine bots to index your pages better.
Dynamic Content on Site
Sitemaps are also very helpful if you have a site where your content is updated or changed frequently. The search engines can be immediately informed of this change through your sitemap. However, this will not assure you that your changed pages will be indexed right away.
To create a Sitemap for your website there are a few simple steps that you need to follow. First, a Sitemap has to be generated after which it needs to be uploaded to the site and then finally Google needs to be notified about it.
A sitemap can be generated in two ways. One is by using an online tool that can help you generate the sitemap and the other is by downloading and installing a sitemap generator.
The first option is much easier compared to the second one as there are several online sitemap generation tools available free of cost that make your work simpler. The second option of downloading and installing a sitemap generator is a little difficult but enables you to gain a better control of the output.
Uploading and Submitting Your Sitemap
Once your sitemap is created, it has to be uploaded to your website and Google needs to be notified about it. In order to notify Google you have to add your site to your Google Sitemap account. However, if you don’t already have a Google Sitemap account, this is the time for you to create one. Also, it is important to know that adding a sitemap to your account requires a verification indicating you are the legal owner of the website.
It is also important to know that Google does not guarantee that all the URLs in your sitemap will be spidered and indexed. For instance, if there are any image URLs in your sitemap, these will not be crawled and indexed. However, your sitemap can help the search engine to know more about your site layout which will help it to crawl your site better and faster when compared to not having a sitemap. Webmasters usually benefit from submitting sitemaps and will not be penalized for it.