What is a Sitemap ?
A site map (or sitemap) is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for Web design, or a Web page that lists the pages on a Web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.
Why would you need a sitemap for your web site is usually a reasonable question for any web designer. A sitemap is a quick access point that allows the visitors on your web site to see the hierarchy of your website and pages in a single glance. Your web designer tool kits usually provide a method to generate a sitemap from the current set of available pages which will be constantly deleting, editing and changing product, information, static pages.
Let’s try to understand what a sitemap is
A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.
Also, your sitemap can provide valuable metadata associated with the pages you list in that sitemap: Metadata is information about a webpage, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and the importance of the page relative to other URLs in the site.
So basically the additional information will assist in making your web site a possible hit when folks are searching the internet for particular services or products.
Why do you need a sitemap?
If your site’s pages are properly linked, Google’s web crawlers can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of your site, particularly if your site meets one of the following criteria:
- Your site is really large. As a result, it’s more likely Google web crawlers might overlook crawling some of your new or recently updated pages.
- Your site has a large archive of content pages that are isolated or well not linked to each other. If you site pages do not naturally reference each other, you can list them in a sitemap to ensure that Google does not overlook some of your pages.
- Your site is new and has few external links to it. Googlebot and other web crawlers crawl the web by following links from one page to another. As a result, Google might not discover your pages if no other sites link to them.
- Your site uses rich media content, is shown in Google News, or uses other sitemaps-compatible annotations. Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for search, where appropriate.
Here are a few useful tips for sitemap
Updating your sitemap after any revision is performed is a excellent benefit. A HTML sitemap can easily be considered as a layout of all the pages that your web site has to offer while a XML sitemap specifically aims for search engines as it reflects the most up-to-date information about the last updated pages. Depending on the web site design you can have plug-ins or the tools auto update / create the sitemap.
Your sitemap can provide valuable metadata associated with the pages you list in that sitemap: Metadata is information about a webpage, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and the importance of the page relative to other URLs in the site. (Source: Google support)
Once you have your sitemap ready, you should submit is to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo search via their respective webmaster tools. Click here for steps to submit a sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.