The Basics of an XML Sitemap


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Author: Marc Hyde
Published: September 5, 2023
Last Updated: September 5, 2023
Read Time: 4 Minutes

The Basics of an XML Sitemap Hero

When you want your website to be found online, you first need to ensure that your website is actually on Google and other search engines, and an XML sitemap is the most efficient way to ensure that your website is found!

In this article, we will quickly discuss XML sitemaps – what they are and how they work on behalf of your website.

What is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is a systematically laid out outline of your website that is designed to tell Google what pages to crawl and how to categorize those pages when they are crawled. This makes sure that all of your pages and blog posts are found, processed, and displayed by Google.

How Do You Make a Sitemap?

If you are using WordPress, you will have a sitemap made for you automatically! Pretty cool, huh!? But if you use an SEO plugin (which is 100% recommended), your plugin will create a sitemap for you, too. Generally, your XML sitemap is found at this URL: *domain.com/sitemap.xml

So far, pretty simple!

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How Does a Sitemap Work?

Inside of the sitemap, you will see your website broken up into categories. Generally, those categories are “pages” and “post.” This tells Google that you have two different types of content on your pages, and inside of those categories, you’ll see all of your content!

As Google’s web crawlers enter your sitemap, they will start to visit all of the pages and posts found inside. As it visits the pages, it will looks for good SEO structure, links to other places on your website, and read all the content on the page before returning to the sitemap for more exploration until it’s all finished.

What Do You Do With Your Sitemap?

Now that you have a sitemap, you need to utilize it. Once you locate your sitemap, here are the two places you need to use it.

Submit sitemap to Google search console

Google has created a portal where you can literally tell it how it can crawl your website.

  • First, head to https://search.google.com/search-console/ and sign up for an account.
  • Second, you must input the URL and verify ownership of your domain (see instructions on how to verify your your website in the Google search console here).
  • Third, past the slug of your sitemap in the sitemap area.
  • Fourth, I also like to put links to both your pages and posts sitemap into the sitemap area, too. (this is optional).

Once you put in your sitemap, you will see a green “success” message next to your sitemap. Don’t worry if you don’t see the success message. Sometimes, it can take up to five minutes for Google to approve your sitemap.

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Put a link to your sitemap in the footer of your website

Although you already put your sitemap into Google’s Search Console, it’s best practice to include a link to your XML sitemap in the footer of your website. That way, when Google starts to crawl your website, they will always be taken back to your sitemap and continue crawling your website!

What Benefits Does a Sitemap Offer to Your Website’s SEO?

If you’re not on Google, you don’t exist. The best way to get onto Google is through your sitemap! This ensures that every page on your website is viewed by the Google web crawler.

Also, it helps keep that web crawler on your website longer. The longer the crawler is on your website, Google will start to believe that you are an authoritative website. If Google believes your website to be authoritative, Google is more likely to show your website in people’s search results.

When your website is found online, how can you make sure your website is ready to be viewed?
Getting found online is incredibly important, but you need to make sure that your website is ready to be found! Here’s a few articles that will help you make sure that your website is ready to be viewed once it’s found:

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I serve businesses, bloggers, and organizations by way of creating great websites that are able to be found online. Web design is a passion, but serving you is my joy.

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