An XML is a document which provides search engines with a map of content pages to index.
Sitemaps are key for SEO. This is because they act as a blueprint for your website, which makes site navigation easier for crawlers.
It means that crawlers can understand the content of your website better, and index the right pages accordingly.
Not only do sitemaps help crawlers find the location of a web page, but it also tells them essential information like where a page ranks in the importance hierarchy, how frequently you update this page, and the last time the page was updated.
Sitemaps are especially important if you have a large website, without a good linking network.
They are also important if you have lots of archived content that it is tucked away.
Or, if your site is new without many external links.
There are a few different ways to ensure your sitemaps are optimised.
Ideally you want crawlers to discover the best content you have to offer first, otherwise a crawler may get the impression that your website is irrelevant and poor quality.
This will lead to a drop in SERPs which is what you are trying to avoid by including a sitemap in the first place.
Instead place pages that are optimised with great content at the top of your sitemap hierarchy.
This is because it wastes crawl budget.
You don’t want a crawler spending time processing a noindex page on your sitemap when they could be using that time to crawl and index important parts of your site.
This can be done by using the canonical tag, in order to inform the crawler which page should be prioritised in your sitemap.
This applies mainly to large e-commerce sites that have many product pages and will help prevent things from getting too messy.
It’s always best to keep your sitemap as small as possible and not put too much pressure on your server.
There are tools on the web that can help you with the task of constructing a sitemap.
Reckon your sitemaps are not as good quality as they should be and you’re suffering for it? Get in touch - we’ll have a team look over everything you’ve done so far and figure out the best way forward for you.
Alternatively, if you need broader SEO help - take a look at our training courses for lots of effective and recommended SEO practises to get you to where you want to be.