Although a website doesn’t need a sitemap to function or be indexed by Google, anyone wanting to improve their website’s position in search engine result pages should definitely make sure they have one.
Not sure if your website has a sitemap? Don’t worry, because even if you have never created a sitemap yourself, the chances are that you are probably using a plugin that has done it for you.
What is a Sitemap?
According to Google Search Console, a sitemap is a file that contains information on the pages, videos, and other files on a website. Sitemaps are used by search engines to better understand a website’s structure.
There are several ways to design a sitemap. XML is probably the most prevalent format. Sitemaps are used by search engine companies like Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing to improve search results.
What role do sitemaps play?
Using sitemaps is a standard way for search engines to understand a website better. It is possible to increase the number of pages that are crawled by Google and other search engines by continually updating your sitemap whenever you add and modify content.
Without a sitemap, a new page or blog post that you create would not get indexed by Google until it crawls another page that links through to it. So in theory even without a sitemap, as long as you have other pages on your website that links to a new page, then it will get indexed by Google. However, causing a sitemap ensures that your page gets ranked quicker.
Why sitemaps are important for SEO
Sitemaps are one of the numerous SEO on-page strategies that aid in a site’s optimization, but their value is often overlooked. Although a sitemap won’t have a direct effect on your SEO efforts it will ensure that Google is kept up to date with all content changes on your website.
The sitemap of your website is critical to search engine web crawling robots because it lets them determine how many pages are on your site, what those pages are about, and when they are updated.
To put it another way, a sitemap tells search engines about any changes you make to your site, and they index them quicker than they would have done without one.
Your website will not be indexed or ranked if crawlers cannot find their way around it. As a result, it would be very difficult to rank or increase your organic traffic.
Even though a website with a good internal link structure may not strictly need a sitemap, it might still help get new pages indexed. Using free plugins like Yoast make the process or creating a sitemap easy. It will automatically create a sitemap for you, as well as update it every time you make any changes to your website.
Most SEO agencies will incorporate a sitemap by default, as it is easy to do and can only have benefits when it comes to SEO, even if the benefits may be small.
How to Create and Upload the Sitemap?
You could create a site yourself by manually creating an XML file and uploading it to your website, but with the amount of free plugins available like the Yoast SEO plugin, it would just be a time-wasting exercise.
If you already have a different SEO plugin activate on your website then check out the settings as you will most likely already have a sitemap generated. If not, then install Yoast and go through this useful guide to set up your sitemap using this plugin.
Do you need a sitemap? No, but as it is so easy to create one there is no reason why any website should have one.
Although sitemaps are beneficial to all sites, they are most beneficial to large websites (more than 500 pages) or websites without a good internal linking structure.