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Are you wondering how you can create a sitemap for your website? When it comes to getting your Singapore business website on the first page of Google, you need to take advantage of as many SEO best practices as possible. One of the simple techniques that will improve your SEO strategy is creating a sitemap for your website.
What is Sitemap?
This is one of the common questions that we get from clients planning to design a website for their business in Singapore. We do not want to complicate things, in simple terms, a sitemap also referred to as XML sitemap is a list of the different website pages. XML is short for extensible markup language – a way of displaying information on a website.
Unknown to most people, even website developers, is to create a sitemap for your website; you do not need to be a wizard to create one.
Why You Need a Sitemap?
Google and other search engines focus on displaying the most relevant search results to users for any given query. To achieve this goal, they use site crawlers to organize, read, and index information on the internet.
XML sitemaps make it possible for search engine crawlers to read the content you upload on your website and index every webpage accordingly. As a result, this addition to your site will boost the SEO ranking of your website significantly.
Your Singapore website sitemap will help search engines to know the specific location of every page on your Singapore website. Therefore, when you update or redesign your site, it is imperative that you update the sitemap.
Without a properly structured sitemap, Google bots will not be able to understand the structure of your website. The worst-case scenario is that the bots might also think that your site contains duplicate content and hurt your current good SEO ranking.
5 Easy Steps to Create a Sitemap for Your Business Website
Step 1: Review the Structure of Your Website Pages
Review the existing content on your website to understand how it is structured and organized.
The example above is easy to follow; it starts from the homepage then links to other pages on the website as shown in the menu.
When it comes to SEO, not all the website pages are created equal or have the same impact on your onsite SEO. Therefore, it is essential to make sure to take an in-depth look at your website when doing this review. One fact to keep in mind is that pages that are further away from your website’s homepage will rake more effort to rank compared to other pages.
So, create a hierarchy of the website pages based on their importance or relevance as well as how you want Google or any other search engine to index them. A logical hierarchy will also help to priories your website content and also make the necessary changes in the future after carrying out A/B tests.
Step 2: Code Your URLs
Now that you have created, a logical hierarchy of your website pages, the next thing that you need to do is code the page URLs.
This is done by formatting each website page URL with XML tags. Experience in HTML coding will come in handy when doing this. The first step is getting a text editor to create an XML file. Sublime Text is one of the best tools in the market that you can use for this purpose.
Here are some of the things you need to add to each URL.
- Last changed
- Changed frequency
- Priority of page
Be careful when working with a text editor to avoid any mistakes.
Step 3: Validate/Confirm the Code
Human errors can occur when you code manually. However, you need to make sure that coding is done correctly to ensure that your sitemap is functioning correctly.
Thanks to advancements in technology, there are tools that you can use to confirm that the code syntax is correct. One of the best tools for this purpose is the XML Sitemap Validator Tool. It will pinpoint any errors in the code thereby saving you time that you would have spent checking for the errors manually.
Step 4: Add Sitemap to the Robots.txt and Root
To add the sitemap you just created to the root and robots.txt, you need to locate your Singapore business website root folder first. The next step is adding the sitemap file to this folder.
Note this action will add a page to your website, but this is not an issue. A majority of the site that have a sitemap have this page as well.
Here is a screenshot of the Apple website to help you understand what we mean.
In addition to adding the sitemap to the root folder, you also need to go the extra mile and add it to the robots.txt file. This file can be found in the root folder as well. The root folder can also be used to specify which URLs you do not wish search engines to index as it crawls your website.
Step 5: Submit the Sitemap
Congratulations, you have successfully created a sitemap for your website and added it to the correct file. The next crucial step that you need to do is submit it to search engines.
To do this, you need to access the Google Search Console dashboard, locate the Crawl tab then click on Sitemaps.
Click on Add/Test Sitemap option located on the top right corner of your screen. You can also verify that the sitemap is working correctly by using the test option. Fix any mistakes identified by Google Search Console before submitting them.
Create a Sitemap for Your Website – Alternative Options
Even though the above five steps are simple and straightforward to most people, some website owners find the process too cumbersome and time-consuming. Luckily, there are plenty of alternative options that can create a sitemap for your website without requiring your input.
Let us look at three of the best tools that you can use to create a sitemap for your website.
WordPress Yoast SEO Plugin
Install the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin to your Singapore business website. One of the highlights of this plugin is that it gives you an opportunity to turn the sitemap on and off by clicking on a simple toggle switch. You can also access all XML sitemap options from the SEO section through WordPress after installing the plugin.
Screaming Frog is desktop software that is best known for providing a broad array of SEO (search engine optimization) tools. You will not be charged a penny to use it, and you can generate a sitemap in minutes provided the website has less than 500 pages. If you have a larger site, you will need to upgrade to the paid version.
One of the highlights of the Screaming Frog is that it gives you an opportunity to make all the coding changes that we discussed earlier in this article without having to alter the code manually. It does this by using user-friendly prompts that are written in simple English. Any changes that you make to the code will change the sitemap automatically.
Most pro website developers in Singapore prefer using Slickplan because it offers a visual sitemap builder feature that is convenient to use and user-friendly. You will be given an opportunity to use a sitemap template that is similar to the ones we have discussed.
All you need to do is drag and drop the different website pages into the template to create a logical hierarchy. Once you are satisfied with the way the visual sitemap looks, go ahead and export it in XML file format.
Note that Slickplan is paid software, but there is a free trial that you can use to get a clear perspective of how it works and what to expect before purchasing the paid plan.
Top Reasons Why Your Website Needs an HTML Sitemap
Just a quick recap, an HTML sitemap is meant to guide website visitors. It also helps search engine bots to crawl the pages. It is every online business goal to offer the best browsing and shopping experience to the customers.
The most successful eCommerce websites, such as Amazon, have put in place measures that enable them to track the movement of customers. Web admins offer a custom shopping experience based on the position of a potential customer in the sales funnel by relying on the information collected.
For example, if a customer recently added a product to the cart but failed to complete the transaction or conducted a search, they have a way of showing custom ads to them based on browsing history.
We will discuss that at a later date.
Today, let us dive in and look at the top reasons why your website should have a correctly set up HTML sitemap. But before we do that, it is essential to note there is a difference between an HTML sitemap and an XML sitemap.
What is an XML Sitemap?
XML sitemaps assist the search engines and bots/spiders in crawling the pages. Without them, their ability to understand the contents published on a particular page is limited.
These sitemaps feed essential information to search engines, such as the URLs of the pages and all other data posted. This information helps them to identify the most important pages and prioritize them during both crawling and indexing.
Contrary to popular belief, changes in the information available in the sitemap, such as how often a page changes compared to other websites, do not affect ranking. Amazon and other large websites with hundreds of pages need an XML sitemap to make it easy for the search engines to crawl them.
It is also important to note that every website has a specific crawl budget. The search engine will crawl every single URL it identifies. This enables the search engines to create a comprehensive list of the website pages they want to serve.
What is HTML Sitemap?
HTML sitemap is meant to help website visitors get the best browsing experience. It should be included on every page, starting with the main pages to the supportive pages. Unlike the XML sitemap, it is a list of live pages on the website. The list has links users can click on to visit the pages directly.
As mentioned earlier, it is essential to ensure that the whole site is properly optimised. Customers should not spend more than 15 seconds to find the product or information they are looking for regardless of your niche. Use it to get ahead of the curve by making your website orderly and professional.
7 Reasons to Leverage HTML Sitemap
Well, some website developers in Singapore are of the idea that an HTML sitemap is not necessary if already the website has an XML sitemap. Nothing can be further from the truth.
Here are seven primary reasons why you need to set up an HTML sitemap today.
Creates Order Out of Chaos on Large WebsitesThe beauty of the digital business landscape is that it allows businesses to scale up quickly if the right marketing strategies are implemented. As it grows, you will need to add more pages to meet the diverse needs of the target customers.
For example, as your product portfolio expands, you may create another eCommerce platform with dedicated digital marketers and promoters teams.
The last thing you would want is to confuse qualified leads when they land in the store. An HTML sitemap will come in handy to guide them through the sales funnel. Concisely, it will make the entire shopping experience seamless.
Picture it as a directory for customers who cannot find some product pages or any other information they are interested in. It could easily be the last resort to help them achieve a particular goal.
Indicates the Online Store’s PurposeFirstly, your website HTML sitemap is a content-based document whose primary goal is to specify the value and purpose of the website.
Make it more effective in achieving the above goal by carrying keyword research to know which keywords to add. One sure way of increasing keyword relevancy to a particular page is by using the correct anchor text.
For websites whose pages don’t have many cross-links, an HTML sitemap is a perfect alternative to anchor text. Below is a screenshot to help you understand the potent power and need for anchor text.
The goal is to offer the best browsing experience to all users irrespective of whether they are new to the website or have visited in the past.
Works as the Website Architect and Project ManagerHTML sitemap is a website architect and project manager. It is a blueprint of your entire website, so it is essential to make sure that everything contributes positively to the growth of the business.
HTML sitemap works like a project management tool. It oversees how the various pages and subpages are connected. They all need to work in tandem. With a properly structured HTML sitemap, there will be a clear hierarchy on the website and a sleek taxonomy. It should be like a well organised daily schedule with details of everything needed to do at a particular time.
Facilitates Search Engine CrawlersGetting a high ranking is more complicated than ever before due to the many ranking factors. Google and other search engines continuously change the bots and rely more on Artificial Intelligence technology to rank websites.
Now, as an online business owner, you should focus on helping the search engines to gain a certain degree of control over where your site is ranked in the SERPs. The assistance we are talking about is providing stellar content and working smart to move your website pages up the already existing crawl queue.
That said, even though XML sitemap is a collection or list of valuable links to the different pages on your website, the links are essential to search engine crawlers. They can either make or break your website by making it easy for them to discover the site and understand it all within the shortest time possible.
It is also true to state that the HTML sitemap draws attention to the content published on the various websites by putting a spotlight on them. Note that it is also possible to send a text version of the sitemap to Google to eliminate any chances of errors occurring (even though the chances of that happening are low).
Boost Website VisibilityAs much as we would want the search engines to crawl and index all website pages on the web, it is not possible. For example, if there is a link to one of the critical website pages, the search bot may only follow that link based on its relevance.
It is also important to note that bots try as much as possible to ensure that every link they follow makes sense or is right. However, in the process, they may never return to crawl the other website pages, which may have important information to the target customers. Luckily, the HTML sitemap can guide the bots through the crawling process. By doing so, it gives them a clear picture of the entire website as well as a glimpse of the intended goal. It will also spend more time on the website to complete the process than on the set page navigation.
In the context of the target customer, the hierarchy and taxonomy of the website help them find information fast. The two facets are utterly crucial to search crawlers, too, has insisted multiple times in this article. Keep in mind that there is no limit on how small or large a sitemap can be provided that Google’s requirements are followed. LinkedIn is one of the large networks with a vast sitemap that contains links to all the individual user’s pages.
You can do the same, but make sure that there are no dead pages. These are pages that serve no purpose since they don’t get much traffic from search engines. You can decide to crank them up by adding fresh content or deleting them altogether. Having too many unnecessary pages will slow down the website, thereby compromising the user experience.
Creates Natural Page LinksIt is not feasible to have a link for every page in the footer or header. With a robust HTML sitemap, you can create ideal connections based on how different customers interact with the content. HTML sitemap is a true reflection of how website visitors move from one page to another looking for a particular product before purchasing. By doing so, it increases the organic search visibility of the highly trafficked website pages.
As you continue to improve your website, let the sitemap be a fallback plan to ensure that no page is omitted or orphaned. In the last year, we have noticed significant organic traffic spikes on websites that previously had many orphaned pages and essential pages that didn’t enjoy many links as recommended.
Identification of Areas in the Site Navigation That Need to be improvedSite navigation refers to how customers move from one website page to another—the clearer the navigation, the better the user experience. Google also has a field day crawling such sites as opposed to those with complex navigation.
Here are some of the benefits of having stellar site navigation.
- Reduce bounce rate
- Increase conversion rate
- Boost brand credibility and awareness
- Offer seamless user experience
- Contributes positively to on-site SEO
As your brand and business grow, you will need more pages. In the process, you may unknowingly end up with sites with duplicate data. Search engines prefer fresh content, and so such pages will drop in ranking or not even get indexed at all.
An HTML sitemap will come in handy to map everything out, thereby making it easy for you to identify the duplicate pages and delete them.
As digital marketing campaigns, it is recommendable to monitor the sitemap regularly to identify the pages that should be deleted or improved. Heat map tools and Google Analytics will also help you to determine how users browse the website.
You may be surprised to know they rely on the sitemap more than the navigation. This is a sign that the current navigation needs to be revamped. Changing the overall website architecture can also salvage the situation by making it easy for customers to find information faster.
Look at the friction points and come up with ways of eliminating them. In the end, you will save thousands of dollars that you would have been lost due to poor navigation and other related challenges.
Above, we have discussed the steps of developing a sitemap for your website.
Now, you can learn more about FAQs about site sitemap as follows:
12 Frequently Asked Questions About Website Sitemap
A website sitemap. What is it?It’s a method for users to view your site or blog and easily find content.
Creating this sitemap in different ways can help meet content needs as follows.
- Go to the front page of the blog and place the sitemap at the bottom.
- Create a separate HTML page that you can connect to your navigation or footer where the user can go to a particular page with links to all the different pages inside your website.
A sitemap is perfect for those websites that want to be accessed when people search for content using crawlers such as Bing and Google. Also, it’s effortless for consumers to find content inside your blog.
Which websites need to have a sitemap?Technically, there is no downside to having a website sitemap because they help you get noticed much better in search engines when consumers are searching for information users. If you own a high-ranking website with lots of links that join to all sorts of subpages, then it becomes harder for Google or other crawlers to locate the website content when lacking a sitemap.
The 2nd website is one lacking well-linked and optimised content. A user usually digs deep by clicking multiple URLs to find the specific link with the required information. It’s good to have a direct URL that leads to a particular page a user is navigating.
The 3rd website needing a sitemap is a brand new one with a low ranking compared to the existing ones. One way to boost your presence and optimisation including a sitemap when creating some build-up for users when finding content through navigation.
What is HTML and XML sitemap?
HTML sitemapHTML sitemap is a page with current web pages, including links. For instance, when you go through a page and view the footer’s link, there’s a URL known as a sitemap. What’s more, within this link, you’ll find this page. In simpler terms, we can describe an HTML sitemap as a list /group of URLs, links to pages, and pages across your blog.
The sitemap aids Google when crawling your website to make the content search much easier. Significantly a dynamically updated HTML sitemap works better. So, when coming up with a new blog or page, a sitemap updates automatically after a search engine crawls the HTML page. When designing an HTML sitemap, utilise user-friendly CMS products like WordPress and Drupal. If you’re not technically minded or unsure, consult a website designer, web manager, freelancer, or consultant who can perform the updates.
XML sitemapNow we have the more complex kind of sitemap better known as XML. It’s a document integrated into XML that guides Google to search relevant pages of your blog. It also doubles as an instruction manual for finding content. We can call it a blueprint for Google.
Sometimes, you can come up with web pages across sites that lack anything linking to them, but you want a search engine to find and index them. This is the place you could define these web pages within your specific XML sitemap for Google to find them. As a bonus, this system safeguards you from depending on multiple URLs to crawl your site and view content. Your main navigation plus URLs is the first point of call, but your web sitemap could also guide Google when indexing content that can’t be located with the first crawling attempt.
What are the SEO benefits of XML & HTML Sitemaps?If you want your blog or website to rank better on Google, you need good Search Engine Optimization. Not only including relevant keywords but also quality content and reputable links.
As earlier discussed, XML and HTML are the two main categories of sitemaps. Let’s see the benefits the latter has on SEO.
Improves search engines functionality and speed: Whether new or old, an XML sitemap will increase the crawler’s speed in a website. It finds the content users are searching for and position it to a higher place. Although it acts as a store for a URL list, search crawlers normally use HTML links to discover the internet. What’s more, this sitemap increases your blog’s attention by spotlighting the content consumers want much more effortlessly.
Organises large websites: The next SEO benefit you can get when using an HTML sitemap is an organised website. Let’s say more people are navigating your site and getting the required information; that means more traffic. You’ll be able to engage with potential clients, especially for those with eCommerce sites such as a clothing store, technical equipment shop, and much more. Also, a business blog with several sections, including features, how to use, benefits, and even type of product, makes the navigation seamless.
Shows the objective of your website: This sitemap shows your site’s specific purpose to the interested audience. It utilises SEO when highlighting relevant keywords for the sitemap. For a webpage with little cross-links, an anchor text comes in handy when creating suitable keywords.
Acts as a reliable project administrator: An HTML sitemap acts as a websites’ architectural blueprint for easier management. It manages the connections between your blog’s pages plus subpages to improve the visibility and navigation of the blog.
Improves page linking: Having an HTML sitemap makes your pages/subpages link much better than those blogs without one. This will improve your site’s visitors’ experience when navigating through a certain page. Remember, not every webpage will link via a URL in either the header or footer. That’s when a sitemap comes in to find suitable connections on how audiences search for items. Plus, it improves the current website’s organic search visibility by using the linked pages.
Enhances search engine visibility: Depending on how your website is built, Google might fail to index all the web pages. If you have a connection on your web pages, common search bots may follow that URL for standard verification. In doing so, it may not index the other existing documents on your blog. A site with an HTML sitemap will easily direct the bots to consider the other pages. Not only to improve the finder’s task but also to make sure it stays longer when navigating the indexing plan.
Help pinpoint website areas that need navigation improvement : A growing site can have duplicate data because of multiple web pages causing a tough time for your specific search engine. Fortunately, you can set out everything and utilize the HTML sitemap to locate any duplication and redundancies in your blog. Also, a sitemap with a heat map and analytic tools gathers that you have a better audience that’s using HTML sitemaps rather than navigation.
XML sitemap improves a site’s ranking: An efficient XML sitemap can enhance the rankings on search engines. More consumers can click on your blog to get more people talking about the services and keep you on a higher level than the competitor.
How do I create a sitemap?Creating and generating a sitemap is essential for a website and it includes a page list for Google to find. If you don’t want it to locate the webpage by omitting it from the sitemap, that doesn’t mean the page won’t be indexed. So, Google will help users find pages and content but will not exclude them when crawling.
The XML sitemap allows search engines to offer improved content indexing. Ensure you set the output by using the correct format, free from errors. For instance, Google requires Sitemap Protocol 0.9 to offer the best outcome.
- Your sitemap should:
– Use UTF-8 encoding
– Include an entry for each URL (main XML tag)
– Start with a suitable opening and finish with a closing tag
– State the protocol standard/namespace within the tag
After entering all these details, just:
– Download the sitemap
– Upload the sitemap to a website
– Register the sitemap with a search engine
How do I tell Google where my sitemap is?The first thing is to find your sitemap in your robox.txt file. This is an essential document for technical SEO, and let’s explore its importance, implications, and how it works.
Robot.txt fileThis file instructs Google and other crawlers like Bing on handling URLs and sections of your website.
Where can you find it?
If you type a website link like this one, “page.com/robot.txt”, it takes you to a plain text page showing a few lines of different descriptions of different things. The two main categories of the robox.txt file include Allow or Disallow your crawler to perform specific tasks. When you Allow, Google will go to the website area, index it, and find the content. On the other hand, disallowing means you don’t want the crawler to find specific pages and locations of your content. By using these two options, you can guide the crawler to access or deny specific areas of your website.
How many types of sitemaps are there?The 2 major kinds of sitemaps include HTML sitemap and XML sitemap. All these are important in a website for seamless user navigation and content search. When using tools like WordPress, you can install plugins that generate these sitemaps. Crawlers, spiders, or bots index sites and find sitemaps to index every page in the sitemap. A user will then have a variety of information about the content looking for inside your blog.
What is the Sitemap format?The 9 standard sitemap formats supported by Google’s Webmaster tools include RSS 2.0 feeds, XML sitemap, GeoRSS files, Media files, Text files, and more. Let’s look at each individually to know how it benefits a website owner.
RSS Feed sitemapSometimes, these feeds (Really Simple Syndication) are created through different blogs automatically. It’s a website content format and an XML language made of entries with metadata. This allows for fast indexing on your website. If people are scraping your site, stealing content, and getting indexed before you, these feeds update quickly and go straight into a search console, and get picked up and indexed before everybody else.
Create your syndication so that you do an update on your site. It will go out to other sites and link back to your site as the leading authority. Remember to always index before your competition for better ranking and user content search.
Media RSS feedsThese feeds are essential in a website because they help newsreader applications to know there are media on the feed. Also, the tags give viewers insight into the information such as file width, type, and size.
Text filesA sitemap usually has a webpage link per line for a search engine to scan. Follow these steps to ensure the crawler is compatible with this text file.
– Should not exceed 50,000 URLs
– Save the sitemaps as UTF-8 files, especially for a website with non-English characters
– If you’re using Yahoo, ensure the main text sitemap is named urllist.txt
GeoRSS filesThese documents are also known as KML files suitable for geographic data. That means search engines can locate data quickly using the user’s location. What’s more, it pushes the results to the top when a consumer is searching for something. A geo sitemap has geographic location information, especially helpful for web admins.
News sitemapIf you’re trying to get into Google news, you need this type of sitemap. You can only have the last 2 days’ worth of info in there and no more than 1000 URLs. Inside, you must include the genre, publication, date, and title, but you don’t need a specified keyword. Note that this sitemap should have links for documents published in the last 2 days. You can remove older articles from this sitemap, but they remain indexed available for 30 days.
Image sitemapsIt helps you get all your images index and a turn of image search. Yoast is an excellent tool for this type of sitemap.
Video sitemapThe other format we have is a video sitemap that helps furnish a search engine with metadata about your site’s content and video. You can tell Google the description, title, run time, audience intended, and category for each film on the blog. Not only to improve the search engine’s video content knowledge but also to enhance your web listings on search results.
When using the WordPress plugin, video indexing helps show up in google search. It’s perfect for those with a website dealing with YouTube videos. They can upload them and get indexed in google while increasing the site’s visitors more quickly than those blogs without this sitemap.
Mobile sitemapYou only need this type when you have a mobile site on a subdomain or a different domain. You’re going to specify in that mobile sitemap the relationship between the URLs.
Index sitemapIf you have over 50,000 URLs, you’re going to create multiple sitemaps. List the numerous sitemaps in an index sitemap. Remember, this kind of sitemap can be no larger than 10 megabytes.
Resource of a Resource sitemapEverybody could use this type of sitemap, but most websites preferred the XML sitemap. Important tips on sitemaps
– Use plugins
– A smaller site can get better indexing and navigation.
– Include URLs that you want to index. If you have blocked links behind roblox.txt or other parameters, they should not be in your sitemap.
– Submit your specific sitemap to google search console and the data for indexing
– Take a look at your competitor’s sitemap. You can get an idea of what they’ve already optimised for, and you can then reverse engineer that for yourself to allow you to rank for more keywords.
What are the best tools to create a sitemap?A variety of online tools can help you create a sitemap. An advantage of some of these applications is that they are free. That means you can tweak and amend the needed areas without worrying about user fees. The following are some popular ones that make this process easy for beginners, beginners, and skilled users.
This sitemap generator tool has one-click site tools to let you check spelling errors, locate broken links, see browser compatibility, web standards validation, and more. You can use it to create sitemaps in a specific style in your browser.
Another tool that does not require a new user to download or register is the XML sitemap. It comes in handy for upcoming and small websites with less than 500 web pages. What you need to do is enter a link, and it will create the sitemap for you.
Another generator for creating colour-coded flowcharts on your website is WriteMaps. It acts as a visual application using colours when outlining content used for the site links. What’s more, it makes collaboration on various projects for large teams easy.
Sitemap Writer Pro
If you want an easy-to-use and fast sitemap generator, this tool is among the best. It has 7 sitemaps types for you to crawl multiple web pages. Also, you can import it into your site’s content management system for friendlier use.
Map your URLs without restrictions using this sitemap generator kit. It’s downloadable to let you synthesise all of your website’s links into a relevant XML sitemap in minutes. Most users love this generator’s bonus feature is its high compatibility with Yahoo, Ask.com, Bing, and Google.
You can use this sitemap tool generator to crawl over 500 URLs and comes with many benefits, including:
– Discovers duplicate content
– Find broken links
– Check bounce rates, conversions, goals
Thanks to its host of tools, you can design a website for a small business, freelancing, or an agency much more accessible. It has a friendly drag-and-drop user interface for simple organizing and testing of website content. Plus, it makes sure the pages have a great visual, unlike others without this tool.
- How to create and submit a sitemap to google search console?
The variety of programs that makes sitemap creation are easy to use. For instance, Squarespace, Yoast, Shopify and more tools can help you create your sitemap almost automatically. But remember, the sitemap URL for each platform is going to be different.
Follow these steps below:
– Go to your website URL and click enter
– Copy it
– Go to google search console
– Click on sitemap and enter your sitemap XML domain
– Click submit
If it brings the notification “couldn’t fetch”, reload it and wait to be successfully uploaded. When submitting your sitemap to google console for the first time, it will show zero discovered URLs because it has not crawled your website yet. But once you log back in after google has crawled it, which can take days, weeks, or months, you will see all the links that have been shuffled.
Pro Tip: If you have moved pages around, changed content structure, or deleted posts on your website, make sure you update your sitemap by resubmitting a new URL on the google search console.
- Can I use a sitemap to show a specific URL?
Google algorithms display a particular link in the search results. To make the outcome much better, include your sitemap preference in the URL.
- Where can I place my sitemap?
If you’re using Google, they have a cross-submission feature for you to put your preferred sitemap in a specific location. Ensure your website is verified in Webmaster Tools for easy navigation and content search.
6 Sitemap Mistakes and How to Fix Them
A sitemap will supercharge your website to rank highly in SERPs and generate sales from organic traffic. The tools highlighted earlier can help you create a sitemap quickly, but some may contain errors that confuse the Google algorithm, thereby reducing the performance of your SEO strategies.
Here are the six most common sitemap mistakes and how to fix them.
Failing to Submit the Sitemap to Google
Pardon us for sounding like a broken record, but a significant number of websites haven’t submitted a sitemap to Google. They assume that the bots will naturally find the sites and index them. You cannot win a match if you don’t play.
Even though submitting a sitemap does not guarantee better SEO results, it acts as a blueprint for search engine bots to crawl the website pages. As Google recently pointed out, a sitemap helps the bots to understand the contents of the pages and how they relate to each other.
That means a sitemap enhances the web crawlers’ ability to interpret the contents of a website. A sitemap is a must-have for:
- Websites that don’t have many internal links
- Large websites with many pages
- Websites with no external sites linking to them
If you are yet to submit a sitemap, the first thing that you need to do is create a Google Search Console account. Next, select your website from the sidebar menu click on the “Sitemaps” options under the “Index” section.
Remove all outdated sitemaps listed in the “Submitted sitemaps” and input the new one “sitemap_index.xml” in the “Add a New Sitemap” option.
Website Pages Crawl Issues
This is arguably one of the most common issues associated with sitemaps. Google will notify you that something is wrong but it doesn’t reveal the details of the problem. It’s difficult to resolve an unspecified error, especially if your website has many pages.
The plausible solution to this issue is analysing the sitemap for errors. The most common mistakes are:
- Having too many 301 redirects
- Slow page load speed
- Error pages such as 403 “Forbidden.”
Doing a manual crawl audit is not easy for online business owners who don’t have the required skills and expertise. Luckily, there are tools online that you can use, such as Botify and Screaming Frog.
Resolve all the issues highlighted by either of these two tools and resubmit the sitemap through Google Search Console.
There are two ways of resubmitting the files. One, you can enter the website URL to Sitemap Manager. Secondly, you can select the “Inspect URL” option then click on “Requesting Indexing.” Once you do that, regularly check the site’s performance to be sure that the issues detected earlier are no more.
Consider hiring a reputable boutique SEO agency to fix the errors correctly. The team will also oversee the resubmission process and confirm that site is functioning normally again.
Failing to Update Sitemap
As your business scales up, you may decide to move to a new website to handle the influx of traffic and customers. Such site migrations are complex, and you may forget to do the nitty-gritty tasks such as updating the sitemap after the migration.
That said, you don’t need to update the sitemap if the changes made are minor. However, if you redesigned the whole website or most of the pages, you need to update the sitemap.
For example, suppose you have a dedicated blog page and upload new articles every week. In that case, search engines can crawl and index the new pages automatically if you have already submitted a sitemap. But to get even better results, it’s recommendable to update the sitemap by following the steps discussed earlier.
Remember, Google prefers pages with dynamic and fresh content that is valuable and resonates with the searchers’ intent. Updating your website regularly will crank up its ranking significantly.
It’s also important to note that some platforms such as Shopify update website sitemaps automatically. Content management systems (CMS) such as WooCommerce and WordPress have a wide array of plugins that you can use to manage your sitemap file.
Having Duplicate Content
You probably already know the dangers of having duplicate content on your website. According to Google, duplicate content is a deceptive practice that results in a bad user experience when users find similar content on multiple websites.
Sites that are found culpable of manipulating the site ranking and deceiving users by having duplicate content risk losing their ranking. Google may also decide to make additional adjustments to their indexing, with the worst action being a complete removal of a website from the database.
The search engine defines duplicate content as pages with near-identical or identical content to other pages on the site or other third-party sites.
Your ranking will be affected if the sitemap has duplicate content. One way of solving this issue is by creating a canonical page that contains all the duplicate content. This action will inform search engines which pages to index and which ones to omit.
For instance, if your website has a printer-only page, you can canonicalize the main page that you consider the most valuable to your business. This is done by including a tag link “rel=canonical” to prevent the search engines from indexing other pages that are less useful or have little impact on your business bottom line. Keep your URL listing consistent to get the most results.
Indexing Utility Pages
When doing SEO, consistency is of paramount importance. The sitemap should have the top-valued pages you want the target audience to visit and take the desired action. In a nutshell, websites have two different types of pages, namely:
- Content Pages: These are essential pages that contain valuable information to the visitors. The search engine should crawl and index these pages to help you connect with the target customers.
- Utility Pages: These pages are essential to the visitors but shouldn’t be considered as essential by search engines. Examples are footer and header content, navigation elements, wishlists and privacy policies.
All utility pages should have a NOINDEX tag to instruct the search engines not to crawl them. Removing them will ensure that search engines crawl your site more efficiently and accurately.
Size of Sitemap
If your website has just a few pages, you don’t need to worry about the size of your sitemap. But as your business grows and you add new pages, you need to start thinking about this factor. Here are the recommendations from Google about sitemap size.
- It should not be more than 50Mbs
- Should not contain more than 50,000 URLs
- Should not have more than 1,000 images in one URL
For large websites whose sitemap exceeds the three thresholds, web admins are advised to create multiple sitemaps. Currently, Google allows users to upload up to 500 sitemaps, but each must comply with the three recommendations highlighted above.
Having separate sitemaps is inevitable for large sites. Each sitemap should have 10,000 or so URLs to enable the search engines bots to crawl the site fully. Having few URLs in a sitemap reduces the chances of errors occurring.
How to Optimise XML Sitemaps for Better SEO Results
Creating the correct sitemap and submitting it to Google via the Search Console is the first step of ensuring your site is indexed and displayed in SERPs for the target keywords. The next step is optimising the file to get the best results.
Here are expert tips on how to optimise XML sitemaps.
Efficiently Use Your Crawl Budget by Using “noindex” Tag
Website pages that you don’t want search engines to crawl shouldn’t be in your sitemap. Efficiently use your crawl budget by using the “noindex” tag on such pages. Doing so will ensure that search engines only crawl the essential websites and reduce the size of your sitemap file.
Besides, even if Google was to index the page, it wouldn’t result in much traffic and sales, as it doesn’t contain information about your products or services.
Leverage RSS/Atom Feeds
Whenever you make substantial changes to your website, it’s advisable to update the sitemap to ensure that the new pages are indexed and listed in SERPs for the target keywords.
Save time by leveraging RSS/Atom feeds; these feeds are tailored to notify Google and other search engines whenever a page is added to a site, or new content is added to existing pages.
Google recommends web admins to use both RSS/Atom feeds and XML sitemaps to ensure that all the essential website resources are indexed at any given time. Only include the recent content in the feeds to avoid misleading the bots.
Develop Dynamic Sitemaps for Large Sites
Earlier, we mentioned that large sites should have multiple sitemaps instead of one large sitemap whose size exceeds Google’s recommended size (50MBs).
One of the challenges of running a huge website is monitoring all the meta robots. Save time and efficiently manage the sites by setting ground rules of which pages will be added to the sitemap. The rest should have a noindex tag.
The process of creating a dynamic XML sitemap is usually daunting to most people. Luckily, we found a guide that describes every step in a simple way for all to understand. Check it out. There are also online tools that you can use to create this kind of sitemaps in seconds; the only challenge is if there are errors in the file, Google won’t adequately crawl your website.
Use of Robots.txt and Robots Meta Tag
Usually, when you don’t want Google to index a particular page, you should use the robot meta tag “noindex,follow” tag. This tag prevents the search engine from crawling and indexing the page but preserves the link equity. This aspect is vital for utility pages crucial to your website, even though they shouldn’t be displayed in SERPs.
On the other hand, you should only use the robots.txt to block specific pages when you don’t want them indexed, and you are almost exhausting your crawl budget.
For example, if you notice Google is indexing and repeatedly crawling unessential pages at the expense of the top-value landing pages, use the robots.txt.
Only Canonical Versions of URL Should Be in the Sitemap
We extensively discussed the impact of duplicate content on site ranking and credibility. When creating the sitemap, multiple website pages, such as two different product pages for the same product but have different colours, should include a “link rel= canonical” tag in the site map. The tag will inform Google which page it should crawl and consider the primary page.
Solving Indexation Problems
Even though Google has improved its bots and algorithm over the years, in some instances, it fails to index all website pages. For example, if you have a large website with, say, 30,000 pages and you submit them all in the sitemap, but Google only indexes 25,000, you won’t get details of why the remaining 5,000 pages were not indexed.
This is one of the challenges facing large eCommerce websites like Amazon and eBay. One way of solving such indexation problems is by grouping the product pages and having a different XML sitemap for each group.
Use hypotheses such as “product pages without unique content aren’t indexed” or “pages missing product images aren’t indexed” to create custom sitemaps.
Take turns to test each sitemap to pinpoint the root cause of the problem. There are two ways of resolving the issues, you can insert a “noindex” tag for the identified pages, or you can fix the problem on each page to avoid lowing the overall quality of your website.
High-Quality Pages Should be Prioritised
Site quality is one of Google’s ranking factors. If the sitemap directs the bots to crawl thousands of pages whose quality is low, the search engine perception of your site will be skewed. It will perceive the site as low quality; that’s why it doesn’t get much traffic on the said pages.
Avoid such a scenario by prioritising the high-quality pages when creating the sitemap.
Here are four characteristics of high-quality pages.
- Contain plenty of unique and valuable content
- Spurs engagement via reviews and comments
- Has relevant images and video
- Highly SEO optimised
Indeed, an HTML sitemap is of paramount importance to your Singapore business website. Ensure that you submit a new version to Google whenever you add any new website page to keep the bots well informed.
If you want to improve your SEO strategy and increase website ranking in Singapore, use the following steps to create a sitemap for your website. Here is a summary of the five steps of creating a sitemap.
- Review your pages
- Code the URLs
- Validate the code
- Add a sitemap to the robot.txt and root
- Submit the sitemap via Google Search Console
MediaOne Marketing is the leading provider of digital marketing and website design services in Singapore. We work with industry leaders and only hire the best to ensure we offer quality services to our customers consistently.
Our professional web design team will not only create a custom theme for your business website in Singapore but also come up with the sitemap and submit it on your behalf. Contact us today for this and other services that we offer such as SEO and digital marketing consultancy.
We look forward to hearing from you.