You are a content creator and produce & post a lot of content on your website every week. Now, your goal is to drive traffic to your website to make money by selling merchandise, displaying ads, etc. For that make your website neat, organized and easy to navigate. Maybe you’re a web designer or a programmer, hired to maintain or rebuild a company’s website.
Sometimes, it may be difficult to arrange all the things and sometimes it may be impossible for large companies having different streams for revenue, but a simple sitemap can give you a right direction to build an attractive, sleek and easy to navigate website. Sitemaps are useful to search engines, whom uses web crawlers to crawl and index different websites.
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a file which contains information of your website, which includes about pages, posts, videos and other files, and relationships between them. Search engines read this file using search engine crawlers to crawl and index your website. A sitemap tells search engines that which pages and files are important in your website and other valuable information about these files like when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, priority of page etc.
Functions of a Sitemap
Sitemap have two primary functions. First, it help web designers and programmers to organize website’s layout. It gives an outline to show which links on a web page will go to which web pages and from what web pages you can next go to from there.
Secondly, Web crawlers used by search engines to index and organize all of the different websites across the internet, uses sitemaps to update their indexes. Thus, sitemap makes websites easier to find, search and use.
Types of Sitemaps
Now, you understand what a sitemap is, it is time to learn about the different types of sitemaps. There are many types of sitemaps and all of these aren’t better than others. Each type of sitemap has its own functions, pros & cons. Here we will discuss the different sitemaps. Here, when we are referring to a host page or a page from which other pages can be linked and accessed, the host page will called as a parent page. The pages which are accessed from the parent page will called as children pages.
Types of sitemaps are:-
- Visual Sitemaps
- XML Sitemaps
- HTML Sitemap
- Image Sitemap
- Video Sitemap
- News Sitemap
Did you ever make a family tree in high school? A visual sitemap is a bit like that. One parent page is branch out into a series of further branching children pages. As a 2D representation of a website, visual sitemap allow web designers and programmers to efficiently plan website by offering a bird’s-eye view to the entire project at a time.
XML sitemaps aren’t designed for human eyes, but for the search engine’s web crawlers. These can be created either by human hands or through the tools created especially for that. Then, XML sitemaps must be manually submitted to each search engine so that they can be crawled and indexed by their web crawlers Also, XML sitemaps allows to index non-HTML content like images, video, PDFs, audio files, etc.
Earlier, in starting days of Internet, HTML sitemaps were very common. Today, they are still exist. An HTML looks like a to-do list. In it, we use a prominent parent as header and the child web pages are then listed underneath it. Designer can change its design according to its taste. Now, Visual thinkers find this either boring or cluttered. A website of sufficient size will quickly become a long list of web pages which may increasing difficult to navigate and planning process.
Image sitemaps, as its name states are related to images. Go through the code of your XML sitemap and add all the relevant information like image type and location of image. Through Image Sitemaps, Google receives metadata regarding the images contained in your website and they will visible in images section of Google Search results. If image sitemaps are used properly, it will increase your website traffic and site visibility.
Like image sitemap, a video sitemap has same function. It contains the same type of information of videos like image sitemap have for images. If it is used properly, it will help in the same way by drawing attention to your videos and website more quickly.
News sitemap is a specialized XML based sitemap which is used by search engines to crawl fresh and newsworthy content. As image sitemap is tied to Google Images and video sitemap to Google Video’s function, news sitemap is an important aspect of Google News. News sitemaps emphasize content of news article. Like all sitemaps, it also uses relevant SEO keywords like subject, important phrases and publication date to get attentions.
Why Do You Need a Sitemap?
You’ve read about the different types of sitemaps and now, may be you’re thinking why you should need a sitemap. Here are some reasons why you need a sitemap for your website.
Search Engine Optimization
SEO is important because it generates your traffic and grows your audience organically. This is done by using the right keywords, images, and sitemap to crawl your website. By using optimized and well-organized XML sitemap, it is easy to index. Sitemaps are used to do SEO of a new website or, increase a website’s traffic.
As mentioned above in article, sitemaps can helpful in website design. When designing a website, visual and HTML sitemaps are important.
Visual sitemaps can help in the earliest and creative stages. It can help to establish basic color palette to the navigation routes. Furthermore, visual sitemaps could even help in the organization of website, by knowing where the content will go and how it will accessed.
HTML sitemaps works in a similar way but is not pleasant to eyes. It can help in the planning stage just as visual sitemap, but not more than it, when it comes to design or redesign. These sitemaps works as the blueprint of your websites to give birth or rebirth, depending on the situation.
How to Create a Sitemap?
Creating Visual Sitemaps
Use either paper or your own computer, begin with a simple circle/square/any other shape that you can imagine. Start with your homepage. Going forward from here, fill in the rest of your visual sitemap. It will produced in top to bottom approach, with all of the subsequent child pages branching from their parents.
You can do the same thing with sticky notes and with even bits of string. The important part of a visual sitemap is that it gives clarity.
Creating XML Sitemaps
For creating XML sitemap requires knowledge functional coding to do properly and awful when you start. However, there are many tools available to build XML sitemaps, as well as you’ll get resources online which can help you in writing and how to write it. Without the appropriate knowledge of coding, it can be created just like a random list of web pages.
You can use sitemap.org. By going there, on homepage, you can be taken to three other pages by looking on the right-handed corner. FAQ leads to frequently asked questions, while protocol will take you to the webpage, having details on how to format and code an XML sitemap. The resource covers the basics of XML coding.
Creating HTML Sitemaps
HTML sitemaps are easiest to create. An HTML sitemap is fast to make but lack in details. While creating HTML sitemap, you can create different lists adjacent to each other, matching them by related content. You can also write each parent page in a different fonts, or colors. If you’re working manually, you simply need a piece of paper and a pencil, or you can use online and offline word processors.
Creating Image Sitemaps
Image sitemaps are used to submit and index images to Google Images. An image sitemap is an XML sitemap, means it is written in xml code for submission. Follow these steps to create an Image XML sitemap:
XML Namespace (<urlset xmlns=”webpage address” xmlns:image=”image webpage address”>
Now, tag your entire image. The tag contains important information of image, like image location, captain, etc. To do this, you will enter every bit of information inside a bracketed URL: <url>. For image location, you will enter <loc>web address</loc>.
Next, under <image:image> enter the same information, save you will change it to: <image:lloc>image address</image:loc>. After that, close the script on </image:image>
Other information can be added that will be of benefit to you. You may add the caption so that searches containing words within the caption will pull up the image.
Creating Video Sitemaps
Like image sitemap, a video sitemap will do the same thing but for your videos, submit and rank your videos, more likely to come up in Google search. Video sitemap is also a form of XML sitemap and can be included in the XML sitemap. Follow these steps to create a video XML sitemap:
First: <urlset xmlns=”web address”
<video:thumbnail_loc>video thumbnail address</video:thumbnail_loc>
<video:description>the description of your video</video:description>
<video:player_loc>video player address</video:player_loc>
<video:expiration_date>when the video expires</video:expiration_date>
<video:view_count>how many views the video has</video:view_count>
<video:publication_date>when the video is uploaded/published</video:publication_date>
<video:family_friendly>family friendly status</video:family_friendly>
<video:restriction relationship=”allow”>video’s national restriction</video:restriction>
info=”website uploaded/who uploaded it on the website”>the video’s uploader/owner
<video:live>whether the video is a live video (being streamed) or not (recorded)</video:live>
While similar to image sitemaps, video site mapping has view terms and concepts that are unique to it. Each video will have a location online which will link to the actual video. Videos will also require thumbnail addresses to link to the video’s thumbnail image, a description of the video, and a type of player which is playing it, examples being JAVA. Google also recommends listing the video’s duration and expiration date for ease of indexing.
Creating News Sitemaps
News sitemaps are a form of XML sitemap, and also like other sitemaps, a news sitemap makes your news articles easier and faster to find on google search. Also like other XML sitemaps, news sitemap is written in code. Compared to both the image and video sitemaps, however, a news sitemap is significantly shorter. An example will look like this:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<urlset xmlns=”web address”
<loc> article location address </loc>
<news:name> website name </news:name>
<news:language> article language </news:language>
<news:genres> Type of article/genre </news:genres>
<news:publication_date> Date of Upload </news:publication_date>
<news:title> The name of the article </news:title>
<news:keywords> The keywords/tags related to the article </news:keywords> <news:stock_tickers>NASDAQ:A, NASDAQ:B</news:stock_tickers>
The most important information related to news site mapping are publication, publication date, and title. The publication listing is publication’s host, the company or group that is publishing the article. The publication’s date is when the article was posted on website. The title is name of the article that will be searched or shown in search results.
How to Submit Sitemaps to Search Engines?
Now, it’s time to learn about how to submit your sitemaps to search engines and put them to work properly. To submit your websites’ sitemap to each of the following, you must have an account with each search engine, which allows you to access webmaster tools, and then you can upload your sitemaps to the engine itself for web crawler indexing.
How to Submit to Google
Google is the world’s largest search engine on Internet right now. Google makes easy for you to submit sitemap, and here are the steps to do it:
Connect your Website to Google Search Console:
- Sign up to Google Search Console.
- Add a Property.
- Enter your website’s URL, Make sure to add www/HTTPS, It is necessary because it takes non-www, www, HTTPS as separate Websites.
Verify Your Ownership:
- Get your Analytics Code under Alternate Methods.
- Log into WordPress Account.
- On the left-hand side select SEO.
- Select General from the SEO menu.
- Select Webmaster Tools and add the code to Google Search Console.
- Return to Google Search Console.
- Click on Verify.
- Log into your Google Search Console Account.
- Select the website which you want to index.
- In left menu bar, Click on Crawl.
- Select Sitemaps.
- Add the link of your Website’s Sitemap.
- Then click submit.
Your website will index on Google after crawling your sitemap.
How to Submit to Bing
Bing is another largest search engine. You can also get a huge traffic from Bing too! And if you are interested to submit your sitemap to Bing, follow the following steps:
Connect your Website t Bing Webmaster Tool:
- Signup/Log into your Microsoft/Bing Account.
- Go to Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Enter your website URL.
- Select Add.
- Download HTML code file
- Upload it in website’s root
- Click Verify.
- Start by signing into your Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Click on your website in My Sites section.
- Select Configure My Site.
- Select Sitemaps.
- Enter your sitemap URL for submission.
- Select Submit.
Also, Yahoo now uses the Bing search console tool to rank websites.
How to Submit to Yandex
Yandex is like Google for Russia. Yandex offers search, e-mail, docs, and other services that someone may not be aware of. If you want to connect with audience outside of Google, or English-speaking community, Yandex may just be the right place to go.
Connect your Website with Yandex:
- Signup/Login to Yandex Account.
- Go to Yandex Webmaster Tools.
- Click Plus Sign(+).
- Enter website’s URL.
- Select Add.
- Copy verification code and use meta tag on the first tab.
- Select Check.
- Sign into Yandex Webmaster.
- Choose your website.
- On the left-hand side select Indexing Options.
- Select Sitemap.
- Enter your website URL
- Select Add.