When exploring the subject of website visibility on the web, we often come across the concept of a sitemap. It is a navigation element, important both for website users and for Google indexing bots, which appreciate and score the presence of a properly constructed map with a higher position in the search engine.
How it’s working?
The sitemap is, in fact, a list of all the links inside the page and specific information for search engines about the content and how to navigate through it. It facilitates the indexing of all subpages by search engines. It is contained in the sitemap file with the XML or html extension.
- html – this is a site map intended for website users; it is a kind of table of contents for them, making it easier to find the desired subpage.
- XML – is a map created for indexing bots, which is a set of subpages and data about links. The meta-information contained therein includes, among others: the time of the last update of the subpages the priority and the frequency with which changes to the subpage are made.
Principles of creating a sitemap
To create a sitemap file, you can use a generator recommended by Google, create it yourself in a text editor or use ready-made extensions that automate this process. However, there are a few basic rules to keep in mind:
- functionality – links must lead to working subpages;
- No Polish characters – the map file is encoded by UTF-8, which may be problematic with some text editors. The appearance of forbidden characters misleads bots, and the subpage will not be indexed;
- capacity – the map file cannot be larger than 50MB, and the list itself is limited to 50,000 links;
- timeliness – each time, after changing addresses, removing or adding new ones, it is good to update the map file;
- The site map should include all language versions.
The created map file should be reported to Google Search Console to speed up its indexing. The panel of this platform will allow you to check the indexation status, whether the map is correct and how many of the links included in it were positively indexed.
The importance of the site map
Having a properly generated sitemap has several benefits, which all come down to increasing traffic to your site.
- The sitemap makes the website transparent user-friendly, who willingly returns to the places where the information or service was obtained, without unnecessary wandering around the site;
- The sitemap helps bots to index faster in line with our expectations. In addition, supervision over the sitemap with the use of Google Search Console will allow you to catch errors in linking, which both have a negative impact on the positioning result and strain the user’s patience;
- The sitemap is a source of information for Google that we are the original and legitimate author of the content therefore we will not incur any consequences (e.g. in the form of lowering the position in search results) for duplicating it.