What is an XML Sitemap:
In general, XML Sitemap’s refer to an XML file consists of a list of URL’s related to your website. Sitemap’s acts as a navigator to the search engines to provide directions to reach the website URL’s. Providing sitemaps to the search engines makes it easy to index the webpages. XML Sitemaps contribute to boosting SEO as it helps search engines to locate pages on your website.
Usually, search engines crawl through the webpages to identify the exact content for a given search query. The main idea behind submitting the sitemaps are to index the content of our website and make the origin available to the search engines. When google parameters identify our content as original, that helps our website ranking better.
Purpose of XML Sitemaps:
XML Sitemaps consists of a list of URL’s recommended to be crawled by search engines. Submitting our website URL’s to google is one of the fastest ways to make our webpages getting indexed. It is not mandatory to mention all the URLs in sitemaps. We can omit a few unnecessary URLs like webpages which we don’t want to get indexed.
Unfortunately, a large amount of data is dumped and posted through various questions and answers with similar keywords. A junk, irrelevant, and un-verified data is present is most of the forums, comment boxes, blogs, sites, etc. This data containing similar keywords creating an ambiguous situation for search engines while crawling. Most of the time, search engine crawlers identify these un-verified blogs and comment boxes with the exact keyword phrase, as suitable content for their search query. This practice has become a pitfall for search engines and their users, as the search engines are unable to provide the most relevant URL to the users, over that they are listing the junk URL’s. To overcome this situation, we can provide the proper content locating proper URL through sitemaps. Through sitemaps, search engines can index the webpages more accurately.
How to use XML sitemap’s to boost SEO:
Do follow Google guidelines: New website holders and small business holders will go with automatically generated sitemaps. It’s better to focus on the URL’s and recommended to create a customized sitemap according to google guidelines.
Google specifies that all XML sitemaps should follow a specific protocol. You should use UTF-8 encoding in XML sitemaps and begin with the following tag:
If you want to make your webpages highlighted by Google and other search engines from millions of websites quickly, submit the sitemap index to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Include Hreflang tags: This is an optional feature. By using the Hreflang tag, the link indicates the different languages for your URL.
<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en-gb”
Include LOC and LASTMOD tags: LOC represents the URL of the page. LASTMOD represents the date of the last modification of the file.
Changefreq: Changefreq indicates the frequency of changed content over time.
Compress to Gzip: We can compress our Sitemap files using gzip to reduce the bandwidth requirement.
Priority: Priority refers to a number, which could be either a 0 or 1, to show the liveliness of the content. If we set high priority for every page, the search engine will mislead and pay no attention. Usually, the highest value (1) refers to the home page.
Markup’s: It is mandatory to follow the markup rules. To avoid inaccurate results and duplication, we recommend checking the markups more frequently.