What is an XML Sitemap?
An XML sitemap is like a roadmap of your website for search engines. It helps search bots crawl your site more easily and index the pages. This lets them find new content quicker and makes it easier for them to determine the relevance of your pages in search queries, improving your SEO.
Google likes to understand every page on your site and an XML sitemap makes that easier.
Benefits of an XML Sitemap
A sitemap is useful if your website or blog is new as you won’t have built many quality backlinks to help search engines to discover the pages. A sitemap helps search engines crawl your site more efficiently. It points search engines to all of your content.
If you have a website where you have a lot of content, a sitemap improves the visibility of your site by allowing search engines to interact more effectively with your site. The XML sitemap should include modification dates which will tell search engines which pages to crawl and which ones haven’t changed.
A sitemap lists all your URLs including the pages that aren’t discoverable by search engines or that they might miss when indexing. You can also tell search engines which pages are a priority so they can order the crawling.
Your sitemap can give search engines information about how important a page is in relation to other pages, how often you make changes to your site and when the last update was. An XML sitemap keeps all this information in one place so the search engines can find it easily.
Do you need an XML Sitemap?
You don’t need a sitemap as Google can usually crawl your site if your pages have been properly linked. However, there are some sites that benefit from the addition of a Sitemap. This page from Google summarises the sites that benefit most which are:
- Sites with a complicated structure or lots of pages
- New sites or sites with very few links
- Sites with lots of isolated or archived pages
- Sites using rich media content or dynamic pages
For more information on XML Sitemaps check out these in-depth articles:
The importance of an XML Sitemap in SEO (OnCrawl)