What is an XML Sitemap, and how can it help Your Website?
Getting a new website indexed takes time, especially if there are a lot of pages to go through. This can be true of e-commerce sites with many products or news sites with many stories. One way to make sure the search engines parse all of your website’s content is through use of an XML sitemap. Now, I’m not talking about a traditional sitemap which is another page on your website with a list of links for your pages (though you should have one of those, too). An XML sitemap is an entirely different animal.
What is an XML sitemap, exactly? An XML sitemap is a specially created XML file that lists all your pages, when they were last updated, how often they’re updated and how high a priority they are. This not only allows you finer control over the way search engines see your pages, but also gives you more control over how your pages are seen by users and search engines. Using an XML sitemap lets you tell the search engines which pages you care about more than others, which pages to check more often and so on. If you use the search engine’s various dashboards such as Google Webmaster tools , pointing it toward your XML sitemap can also give you more detailed information about how the search engines see your site, as well as useful diagnostic information.
An XML sitemap is made up of four components. These are:
- The location of the specific web page.
- The date of the last update for that specific page.
- The frequency in which that page is changed.
- The page’s priority.
In code form, this is what an entry in an XML sitemap looks like.
That tells the search engine that this page was last modified on June 1st, 2011, that it’s updated weekly and on a scale of 1-10, this page has a priority of 8. This, again, allows you to better control how your content is viewed by the search engines. Your XML sitemap would have a “url” entry for each individual page, which could be in the hundreds or thousands. This sitemap also needs to be exact, and properly maintained so that search engines don’t ignore your pages.
If you don’t have an XML sitemap, or are having trouble managing yours, contact 180Fusion. We can help you create an XML sitemap, or update and manage an existing one, along with all of our other SEO services. That way you can be sure that the search engines see all of your pages as you want them to be seen.