Creating and updating your XML sitemap is an important yet ignored SEO practice.
Sitemaps are significant for your websites and search engines.
For search engines, sitemaps are a simple and clear approach to get data about your site’s structure and pages.
XML sitemaps give some crucial meta information too, like:
However, there are certain best practices for using a sitemap to your maximum advantage.
Ready to figure out how to streamline XML sitemaps?
What follows are 13 best practices to get the most SEO value for your money.
Making a sitemap is simple when you have the correct tools, such as auditing software with a built-in XML Sitemap generator or popular plugins like Google XML Sitemaps.
Indeed, WordPress sites that are already using Yoast SEO can enable XML Sitemaps directly in the plugin.
Alternatively, you could manually make a sitemap by following XML sitemap code structure.
Actually, your sitemap shouldn’t need to be in XML design – a text file with a new line separating each URL will suffice.
However, you should produce a total XML sitemap if you need to execute the hreflang attribute, so it’s a lot simpler just to let a tool do that work for you.
Visit the official Google and Bing pages for more data on how to manually set up your sitemap.
You can submit your sitemap to Google from your Google Search Console.
From your dashboard, click Crawl > Sitemaps > Add Test Sitemap.
Test your sitemap and view the results before you click Submit Sitemap to check for errors that may prevent key landing pages from being indexed.
Preferably, you want the quantity of pages indexed to be equivalent to the quantity of pages submitted.
Keep in mind that submitting your sitemap reveals to Google which pages you consider to be high caliber and deserving of indexation, yet it doesn’t ensure that they’ll be indexed.
Instead, the advantage of submitting your sitemap is to:
Assist Google with seeing how your site is spread out.
Find mistakes you can address to guarantee your pages are indexed appropriately.
When it comes to ranking, overall site quality is a key factor.
If your sitemap guides bots to a huge number of low quality pages, search engines interpret these pages as a sign that your site is probably not one people will want to visit – whether the pages are vital for your website, for example, login pages.
Instead, try to guide bots to the main pages on your site.
Preferably, these pages are:
When you have multiple pages that are very similar, such as product pages for different colors of the same product, you should use the “link rel=canonical” tag to tell Google which page is the “main” page it should crawl and index.
Bots have an easier time discovering key pages if you don’t include pages with canonical URLs pointing at other pages.
When you don’t want a page to be indexed, you usually want to use the meta robots “noindex,follow” tag.
This prevents Google from indexing the page however it safeguards your link value, and it’s particularly helpful for utility pages that are essential to your site but shouldn’t be showing up in search results.
The only time you want to use robots.txt to block pages is when you’re eating up your crawl budget.
If you notice that Google is re-crawling and indexing generally irrelevant pages (e.g., individual product pages) at the expense of core pages, you might need to use robots.txt.
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