How to create an XML Sitemap for better SEO
Most clients want quick results with SEO. Is that even possible?
In some ways, yes! Today, we’re here to reveal one of the quickest ways to deliver high value for low effort.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization is known for its steady pace, and when done correctly, wins the race. However, this vertical of digital marketing takes time to bring in results even though effective in the long run.
We’re talking about creating an XML sitemap.
What does technical SEO have to do with an XML sitemap?
An XML or ‘Extensible Markup Language’ sitemap refers to a list of website URLs that map out the structure of a website with its connected pages.
Technical SEO related activities include this one significant step of creating a sitemap. It’s quite a passive approach because it’s not the users who will directly move towards the sitemap to check what the website involves. However, an XML sitemap is more for the search engine crawlers that will organize and index information on the website.
A crawler reads information through markup language that only your SEO expert, website developer, and the crawler would know. That is why the crawler prefers a website with an XML sitemap over a website that does not have one.
Once the crawler is aware of what’s on your website, it is highly likely to get your website to rank quickly.
Sitemaps also are a way to tell search engines about the recent updates on a website. This also includes the frequency of updates to the page, the significance of specific pages within a website, and enabling the indexing of the website’s structure.
What does the crawler read on the sitemap?
Here’s what the information looks like in a sitemap:
- Where the page is located on the website (its URL): <loc>http://www.example.com/specificpage</loc>
- When the page was last changed: <lastmod>2022-05-13</lastmod>
- How often the page is changed: <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
- What priority the page has in relationship to other pages on the site: <priority>1</priority>
What happens if you do not add a sitemap to your website? Your website will be looked upon as harboring duplicate content, and that’s not a good move for all the SEO efforts that you make.
Using a sitemap inspires a faster way to get indexed by Google, so why waste time wondering whether or not to create an XML sitemap? Connect with us, your reliable SEO agency to help get your brand’s site ranked quickly.
Within a few minutes of creating your sitemap, Google will send crawlers to visit your site, and index your content.
How to create an XML sitemap?
It doesn’t matter if you are about to create a website or have an existing website. It doesn’t even matter on the type of CMS you are using, because we will use a special tool to easily create an XML sitemap.
Here’s another interesting note to make; you don’t need direct login access or need to own the website. We create a specialized sitemap for you that crawls websites having more than 500 pages.
For the ease of explaining how to create a sitemap, we will use the tool ‘Screaming Frog’. This tool requires that you purchase a license and install this powerful desktop software program.
This software has a basic (free) version and a yearly paid version.
Let’s say we use the free version for now:
What you need to do is:
- After installing the Screaming Frog tool, open the file and type your website’s URL in the top field next to the Start button. Click start once you are done typing the site’s URL.
- Your website will be crawled during this period, which takes a few minutes to probably more, depending on the size of your website. So, grab a coffee while you’re at it!
- How do you know the website is done being crawled? You’ll see a ‘100%’ figure displayed in the status bar.
- Once 100% appears, it’s time to go up to the menu bar and click ‘Sitemaps’, and then click on ‘Create XML Sitemap’.
- This is an interesting activity because now you have to choose which pages you want to include in the XML sitemap. Too technical? We’ll do all of this for you! Moving on to the next step…
- Now you’re going to see a few technical SEO terminologies that might scare you, but ask your SEO expert to select the right options for you based on your website pages and volume.
The following options that will appear are”
- ‘Include Noindex Pages’– These pages contain HTML code in the header indicating to search engines not to include that specific page in the search index.
- ‘Include Canonicalised’– Sometimes, there’s more than one URL pointing at the same page. By clicking this button, you are informing the search engine crawler to include the varied URLs that point to the same site page.
- ‘Include Paginated URLs’– The trickiest feature in the toolbox! We recommend not clicking this icon unless your SEO expert finds it wise otherwise. The paginated URL includes rel=attributes [rel=“prev” and “next”] to navigate through the series of content added to the website.
- ‘Include PDFs’– Do you have PDFs uploaded on your website? Are these PDFs providing relevant information to your target audience? Then you need to click this feature hands down! Google indexes all kinds of content in the best interests of the reader, including PDFs.
- Apart from the pages tab, you’re going to come across other tabs like “Last Modified,” “Priority,” and “Change Frequency”. These tabs deal with the date and time that your site’s pages were modified. Leave them on default without changing anything, unless you have prior knowledge of the same.
- There’s another tab at the extreme end called ‘Image’ – this is something you want to click, after which you can select the relevant images you want crawled on your website.
It’s time to save your XML sitemap with all the settings done by clicking ‘Next’ and then ‘Save’. You’ll be prompted to save the Sitemap document, so save it on your computer and then upload it on your website via FTP, or ask your developer to help you with the uploading process.
The next and final step is to submit your sitemap to Google. How about we do this for you? Connect with SEOTonic, your SEO agency that is trustworthy and reliable.