When we search for something on Google, we are used to Google answering very quickly. In most cases, we choose the first answer that is shown to us and enter that link.
But have you ever wondered how Google can quickly find the answer to your question from thousands of pages on different websites? Here, we are talking about millions of pages and content.
If you are not a curious person and these questions do not occur to you, but you have a website, it is better to look for the answer to this and similar questions.
In this search, you will reach the complex and beautiful world of SEO. The website that Google wants to show to the user has certain predetermined features. If you want your website to be seen by anyone in this world, you must first show it to Google.
How does Google see sites? If we want to ask more precisely, we should ask: How does Google see each and every page of the website?
Google uses crawlers for this. The task of the crawlers is to visit the pages of different sites and see them. (If this happens, that page is indexed in Google.)
For this reason, every site must have a sitemap. Crawlers move between different pages of your site using the sitemap.
The importance of the sitemap does not end there. Read the rest of this article to learn more about the sitemap itself and its benefits, as well as ways to create a good sitemap for your website.
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Table of Contents
What is a sitemap?
Defining a sitemap is easy. Sitemap is just like Google Map. In the sitemap, instead of alleys and streets and different places of the city, the address of the pages and the type of website structure are shown.
Another difference is that Google map is supposed to guide people, but sitemap Google crawlers.
Therefore, the most important thing that a sitemap does, from an SEO point of view, is to guide crawlers through the pages of a website so that all pages are indexed.
A more specialized definition of a sitemap is: a list of URLs of a website.
However, the sitemap also shows the structure of your site; How different pages (main and subcategories) are organized and categories are done.
How many types of sitemaps do we have?
Based on the definition of sitemap, there are two general types: Visual Sitemap & XML Sitemap.
The first type (visual sitemap) is usually created before the site is built. In this type of site map, the categories of information and pages, the connection of pages and contents are determined.
For example, if you want to have a store site; You have to specify from the beginning how many categories of products are going to be offered on the site? How many subcategories will each category have?
Therefore, it is clear from the beginning how many pages your site is going to have and what topic each page is dedicated to and how important it is. Visual sitemap is supposed to organize your site.
The second type (XML Sitemap) is created when you have created the site and various pages and are ready to show it to Google. It is the second type that is a guide for Google crawlers and is very, very important in SEO.
This sitemap is created with the Extensible Markup Language (XML) extension, which is a way to display and store information on a website.
Why is sitemap important?
The importance of the first type of sitemap, which is clear and specific. Visual sitemap makes site design, UX, SEO and content production easier and faster.
But, it can be argued that the second type of sitemap (XML sitemap) is a bit more important. With this sitemap, you can talk to Google and its crawlers and tell Google what pages to see and what pages not to see.
With an XML sitemap, you provide Google with important information about any page on your website:
- Where is this page located on your website (<loc>http://www.example.com/mypage</loc>),
- When was this page last modified or updated (<lastmod>2021-21-7</lastmod>),
- How often is this page changed or updated (<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>),
- How important is this page on your website (<priority>1</priority>).
- To clarify the issue, it is better to explain a little about the meaning of sitemap tags.
This tag is required. All the information related to a page is included in this tag.
This tag is also required. This is the parent tag for each URL.
This last tag is required. The desired page address is placed in the middle of this tag. Please note that this address cannot be more than 2048 characters.
This optional tag includes the date of the last modification and changes on the site in the (mandatory) format of day-month-year.
One of these 7 modes may be placed between this tag: always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and never.
The last tag, which is also optional, may be a value between 0.0 and 1.0.
1 (the most important page of the site) is usually for the homepage of each site.
How is a sitemap made?
Now that having a sitemap is necessary, we have to see how to make a sitemap (believe me, it’s not difficult at all). Of course, it should be added that the work does not end with creating a sitemap. The created map must be introduced to Google. Let’s start with the easiest way.
Creating xml sitemap with Yoast
If your site is WordPress, you can easily create a sitemap with the Yoast plugin. So install this plugin. After that, go to the settings of this plugin and select the Features option from among the tabs. After that you can activate the sitemap.
Using this plugin to create a sitemap has great advantages:
Every time you create a new page, its link is automatically added to the sitemap.
Creating xml sitemap with Google XML Sitemaps plugin
Fortunately, there are other plugins for creating sitemaps for WordPress sites. Google XML Sitemaps is the best and most popular. After installing this plugin, in the settings section, you can set all the items related to tags yourself.
Creating a sitemap without plugins
If your site is not WordPress, you don’t need to worry. There are other intermediary sites that you can use to create a sitemap. One of these intermediary sites is XML-Sitemaps. It is enough for you to give your website address to this site.
We reached the last stage, as we said, the sitemap is made to guide crawlers and Google. So we should introduce it to Google and make it available.
Introducing the XML sitemap to Google
This is also easy. You must have connected your website to Google Search Console. When you enter the search console, you will see the Sitemaps option in the left menu. You add the sitemap URL of the website, which is in the format sitemaps.xml, in this specified location.
You must also click the Submit option.
An important part of the work is finished. You just have to make sure that this message is also displayed: sitemap index processed successfully.
The work is done. You have the possibility to get more information about all the links in the sitemap from the search console. Just visit SEE INDEX COVERAGE to see how many valid links have been indexed on your website.
Default XML Sitemap Constraints
In creating and introducing the sitemap file to Google, you should keep two limitations in mind:
First, the number of URLs in the sitemap cannot be more than 50,000, and secondly, the size of the sitemap xml file should not be more than 50 megabytes.
If these restrictions are not met, you should divide the sitemap into several parts. Of course, it is better to respect the limits so that you don’t have to split the sitemap into several pieces.