Depending on the size of your website, you may have a complex architecture of pages, navigation, links, back links, and more. But whether your website is small or large, the importance of having a sitemap for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) can’t be ignored.
What’s a Sitemap and Why Do I Need One?
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all of your website’s URLs. In order for a search engine to index your pages, it needs to be able to find them. This is where sitemaps come in handy – they allow search engines to crawl the links to all of the individual pages on your website.
The more pages a search engine can index from your site, the more trust you build within that search engine.
Sitemaps are especially beneficial for the following:
Websites that have a large number of new or updated pages
Websites that have a large number of pages that are created dynamically
Websites that have a lot of archived content that may not be well-linked
How to Format Your Sitemap:
Depending on what Content Management System (CMS) you use for your website, you may have the option to automatically generate an XML sitemap. If your site utilizes WordPress, all you need to do is install the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin and enable the XML Sitemap functionality (check out a step-by-step guide here).
If your CMS does not generate a sitemap, check out this handy guideline for XML sitemap schema protocol here.
How to Verify Your Sitemap:
Once your sitemap is uploaded to your server, you’ll want to ensure that you have it verified with search engines. You can get started with Google Webmaster Tools to make sure you're good to go.