Sitemap: A Definition
According to techterms.com, “A site map, sometimes written “sitemap,” is an overview of the pages within a website. Site maps of smaller sites may include every page of the website, while site maps of larger sites often only include pages for major categories and subcategories of the website. While site maps can be organized in a variety of ways, most use an outline form, with pages arranged by topic.”
Why Is A Sitemap Important?
If you conduct an SEO audit on your website from most online tools out there, one of the factors for “earning” a higher score will probably be the existence of a sitemap. One analogy for it goes, if a website has a navigation menu for its’ users, it has a sitemap for search engines.
Although it is not explicitly stated anywhere that your website needs one, Google reassures us that you will never be penalized for having one.
How Do I Create One?
There are three main different kinds you can create: Plain Text, XML, RSS.
The most basic of the three is the plain text file, which is a list of all the URLs on your website arranged one per line. An example is shown below.
Save the file as sitemap.txt with UTF-8 encoding and your done.
The XML format is my personal favorite type. I find it to be the easiest to create and update (especially when you use an online tool!!). Here’s an example.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/index.html</loc> </url> </urlset>
Notice that the XML file specifies the encoding type. All you have to do is save the file as sitemap.xml and upload to your website.
The RSS method is really great if you have a content management system that automatically creates an RSS feed for you (like WordPress). I would not recommend trying to create an RSS format on your own, as it would be much more work than a plain text. You can see what RSS feed looks like here:
Where To Submit Your Sitemap
The overwhelming majority of website owners on the internet are concerned with Google. Therefore, I recommend submitting your file in Google’s Search Console.