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XML Sitemaps: A Comprehensive Guide

By July 6, 2019 July 9th, 2019 No Comments

In Internet World Every business has their Internet Presence Either by Website or Web Application or Software. Then, questions arise is: “Why would I need to add a XML sitemaps to my site/application/software”? What are they? Why do I need one? And how do I create one?

A sitemap is a way of collecting and displaying the information about the structure  of a website, identifying the links and the data within that website. Sitemaps were originally created for the users of a website so that they could see an index of that site for easier navigation to the pages they wanted to visit.

What Exactly Contains a XML Sitemaps?

A Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with visual or textually organized model of a Web site’s content that allows the users to navigate through the site to find the information they are looking for. A sitemap tells the crawler which files you think are important in your site, and also provides valuable information about these files: for example, for pages, when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and any alternate language versions of a page.

Using the sitemap does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

File Types are Supported by XML Sitemaps-

Google can detect the various file types of Sitemaps. These are specific to the type of content on a site and help search engines identify the files much more easily.

List of Sitemap File types:

  • HTML(classic sitemaps which visitors may use to navigate a website)
  • Video(A sitemap video entry can specify the video running time, category, and age appropriateness rating.)
  • Image(A sitemap image entry can include the image subject matter, type, and license.)
  • Mobile
  • News

Is there anything I should know about XML sitemaps?

Yes, there is.
In order for search engines to find an XML sitemap it must be placed in the root directory of your web server, i.e. http://example.com/sitemap.xml and the file must be called sitemap.xml.
If you create a compressed copy of your sitemap then that file must be compressed using Gzip and the compressed file must be called sitemap.xml.gzip.

A sitemap cannot exceed 10MB and it cannot contain more than 50,000 URLs. If your sitemap is larger than 10MB or contains more than 50,000 URLs you can create a small number of sitemaps and a sitemap index file.

XML sitemaps must use UTF-8 encoding

All URLs listed in a sitemap must reside on the same host as the sitemap. For example, if the sitemap is located at http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml, it can’t include URLs from http://subdomain.example.com. If the sitemap is located at  http://www.example.com/myfolder/sitemap.xml, it can’t include URLs from  http://www.example.com.

All URLs listed in a sitemap must be specified in full along with the protocol (http or https). For example, http://www.example.com/ is a valid URL for a sitemap, whereas www.example.com is not. If you use both http and https for the same URLs then you must only include one of them. You cannot have duplicate URLs in a sitemap.
You cannot include URLs with a session ID in your sitemap. If your site uses frames you should include the frameset URLs as well as the URLs of
the frame contents.(Source-A Comprehensive Guide to XML Sitemap)

XML Sitmaps creation for a wordpress websiteNOTE:

  1. The loc tag is compulsory, while the lastmod, changefreq and priority tags are optional.
  2. Ideally, an XML Sitemap should be added to the root directory of the website. All URLs in the Sitemap must come from the same host.
  3. Only the canonical version of all page URLs should be included, so pages should not redirect or return an error status.
  4. The maximum length of the URLs is 2,048 characters.
  5. While it may seem possible to manipulate search engines into thinking the content on your page is frequently updated by declaring the changefreq tag daily, it is not advisable to do so. If the frequency and priority tags do not reflect reality, chances are that search engine crawlers will ignore them.
  6. All URLs in the Sitemap must come from the same host.

Why website Need Sitemap?

Search engines will rank your content for specific keyword searches, which allows searchers to find your website. You might have orphaned pages (pages that got left out of your internal linking), or that are harder to find. Your sitemap is especially important when you’ve recently added pages or created a whole new site that doesn’t have a lot of, or any, links to it yet.

Sitemaps also help search engines crawl your pages more intelligently. They take ‘and` tags into account and can adjust their crawl frequency accordingly. You get to be a little proactive about getting search spiders to visit your pages. Upping the priority level of a page makes it more likely that pages will be crawled and indexed more frequently and before other, less important parts of your site.

  • 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 not well linked to each other. If your 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.(Source- Learn More)

Steps To Create a Sitemap In WordPress

For the creation of the Sitemap in WordPress I use Yoast SEO plugin. Install the plugin, and then go to the Features tab. Now Change the “Advanced settings pages” to “Enabled” and save the changes.

Now enable the plugin, you’ll see some additional options appear on the SEO sidebar to the left. Select “XML Sitemaps.” Follow the picture

 

Now Enable the “XML sitemap functionality”.

Next Submit the Sitemap to Google-

The first step login to the Search Console and select “Add a Property.” You’ll then be prompted to enter in your website.

After you click “Add,” you’ll be taken the page below. Choose “Alternate methods,” and then “HTML tag.” Copy the code in between quotation marks after content; this is blocked out in red in the image below.

Now go back to the Yoast dashboard, and select the “Webmaster Tools” tab. Paste the code that you had copied in the previous step into the “Google Search Console” box. Be sure to save your changes when you’re done. (Note that you can also use this to submit your sitemap to Bing and Yandex as well.)

Once you’ve added it to Yoast, then go back to the Search Console and click the red “Verify” button. If you’ve followed all of the steps, you should see the message below. (If not double-check to make sure you didn’t miss something.)

A new tab will open with your sitemap. The URL will be “http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml” (“yourdomain” will obviously be replaced by the name of your website). Copy the last part of the URL “sitemap_index.xml,” without the quotation marks.

Sitemap Submission in Bing-

In Bing Webmaster Tools:

  1. Go to your website dashboard.
  2. Click “sitemaps” in the “configure my sitemap” dropdown on the left.

Finally, you should list your sitemap in your robots.txt file to ensure it’s found by all search engines other than Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

Sitemap Generator Tools

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XML Sitemaps: A Comprehensive Guide
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