If you’re thinking about needing a Sitemap, you may also be wondering why you aren’t getting the traffic you want to see on your website. The two things go hand in hand for most websites- being found on Google happens easily with a lot of aspects applied to a website, but a site map is the most powerful aspect from a search component. So what exactly is a Sitemap, how do you make one, and how do you submit it so that Google can find your website easily? Does your website even need a Sitemap?
A Sitemap is literally a list of the pages that your website has. Sitemaps are guides for Google’s search engine bots, so they can find web pages in a web site and index your website properly. Sometimes, some URL’s aren’t easily found by search engine bots, so manually submitting a Sitemap to Google is a good way to ensure your entire website and all of its content is being found and indexed effectively. This is especially effective for websites that are new with a small amount of inbound links, websites with a lot of dynamic content (videos used to offer content, for example), or websites that have a lot of unlinked content pages. Bots find websites through links, so simply put, if you don’t have a lot of inbound links or inner links, there’s a chance Google won’t be able to find your content effectively.
To make and submit a Sitemap to Google, you have to follow a couple of simple steps. First, to make your Sitemap, you can either create it manually, or use third party tools that can generate your Sitemap for you. Google recommends that you create a Sitemap based on sitemaps.org’s protocol, because that allows your Sitemap to be crawled by not only Google, but also with Bing and Yahoo!. Third party tools usually offer Sitemaps based on this protocol, and a list of them can be found here. For example, Google accepts feeds in RSS and Atom 1.0, so if your website or blog has an RSS or Atom feed, you can simply submit your feed’s URL as your website’s Sitemap. You can also submit your web Sitemap as a basic text file if there are no specialized data on your website (images, video etc.). You can find more detailed instructions on how to make and submit a Sitemap by visiting Google’s info page here. The process might seem complicated at first, but it’s really not that difficult to create and submit your Sitemap to Google.
Some authorities on this subject say that you don’t need a Sitemap for your website if you think your website has plenty of inbound links making it easily reachable, if you hardly update your website, or if your website is small. Regardless, it’s always a good idea to submit a Sitemap if you’re ever concerned about how well the search engine bots are reaching your website and listing your content on search results regardless of the status of your website. However, you can always determine how well your website is indexed by Google by simply putting your website’s home page URL into the search box and seeing how well your pages end up in the results. There’s probably a decent chance your website needs a Sitemap. It’s a good idea to have one ready to go anyway.