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 in 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 advancement 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 Apple website to help you understand what we mean.
In addition to adding the sitemap to the root folder, you also need to go an 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 Google Search Console dashboard, locate 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 it.
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 on 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 a HTML Sitemap
Just a quick recap, a 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 a HTML sitemap and an XML sitemap.
What is a 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, does not affect ranking. Amazon and other large websites with hundreds of pages need a 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 a 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 a HTML sitemap today.
1. Creates Order Out of Chaos on Large Websites
The 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 a dedicated digital marketers and promoters team.
The last thing you would want is to confuse qualified leads when they land in the store. A 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.
2. Indicates the Online Store’s Purpose
Firstly, 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, a 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.
3. Works as the Website Architect and Project Manager
HTML 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.
4. Facilitates Search Engine Crawlers
Getting 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).
5. Boost Website Visibility
As 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 the 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.
6. Creates Natural Page Links
It 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.
7. Identification of Areas in the Site Navigation That Need to be improved
Site 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.
A HTML sitemap will come in handy to map everything out, thereby making it easy for you to identify the duplicate pages and delete them.
Like 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.
Indeed, a 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 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.