You may have come across the term ‘sitemap’. Basically all websites should have a sitemap file which is used as part of advance SEO technique to help improve your site search ranking. In this article I will explain the concept of why you need a sitemap and how it contribute to SEO (search engine optimization).
A simple, quick and effective technique to improve your site search engine ranking is by submitting your site homepage URL to search engines. The search engine crawler will visit your home page and and then crawl any internal links you have from your home page to other pages on your site as well as to other pages links to from those pages. The shortcoming of this technique is that not all the pages on your site are link to the home page.
If you want to all the pages on your site submitted for indexing, what you need is a sitemap, literally a hierarchical map of your entire website. A search engine can use the sitemap to index all the relevant pages on your site.There is no need to worry about different sitemap format for different search engines. All the major search engines support a single site map standard and this is important as it enable you to create one sitemap for all search engines thus saving you time and effort.
What does the sitemap contains? Basically it is just an XML file that contains the distinct URLs of all the pages on your website, defined in hierarchical order together with important information of each pages. When the search engine crawlers reads the sitemap files, it gathers all the information about the pages on the website and thereafter crawl all those pages for submittal to the search engines’ index.
The whereabout and location of the sitemap is specified in a file in your site namely ‘robots.txt’. This is a small text file that is stored in your site’s root directory. This text file is read by the search engine crawlers which then knows what and what not to crawl on your site.
A sitemap helps your site to expose pages that are deeply buried to the search engines. It also allows you to specify how important each page and the freshness of the page. The date of each web page in the sitemap also allows you to notify the search engines of all the new and updated pages on our site.
You can notify the search engine crawlers to index newer and updated content in your site. Your site pages may still be discovered by the search engine without the sitemap however having one helps to supplement and get your sites pages index faster.
There are many free site map tools that helps you to create a sitemap file quickly. Of course you can create the file manually but why bother about it if you can generate it with the click of a button? Here are a few popular free sitemap generating tools.
It is important to note that there is no guarantee that Google or other search engines will crawl or index all the URLs specified in the sitemap. Nevertheless, due to the fact that the search engines use the data in the sitemap to gather more information about your site structure, it should result in the improvement of the crawler schedule for your site and therefore eventually improve the addition of your site’s pages in the search results.