What is a Sitemap and how to create it in 2021

sitemap generation

Many bloggers and website owners complain that their website or blog doesn’t get indexed by Google, Bing, or other search engines.  

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Is your website or blog is among them? Then here is the solution.

The answer might be your site doesn’t have a sitemap, and that’s why the search engine crawler doesn’t crawl your full site.

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Then what is a sitemap, and how does it helps you index your website in search engines?

Let’s dive in and find out what is a sitemap and how to integrate it into your website.

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Both HTML and XML site maps are quite crucial from an SEO point of view. Both have a significant role in helping search engines understand your website or blog and find all of your content presents on your website.

So what is XML and HTML sitemap, let’s discuss how to create them and integrate them into your website.

SITE MAP 

HTML sitemap is a physical page present on your website whereas XML sitemap is not a physical page on your website.

HTML SITEMAP

An HTML site map is an extra page containing a list of your website’s pages, including hyperlinks to those pages. Often when you visit a website, and you look for links in the footer, you’ll find a link called “sitemap”.

When you click the link, it takes you to another page where the sitemap is present. So, an HTML site map is just a list of your current URLs, with their titles.

So the purpose of creating a sitemap is, that when a user visits your websites, it makes it a lot easier to find your content, significantly if your HTML site map is updated dynamically. 

There are two types of sitemaps, one is dynamic, and the other one is static. A dynamic sitemap is that which gets auto-updated once you update your website.

When search engines crawl your sitemap HTML page, they will go ahead and find all of your new content. It becomes an important place to put your files. 

Again, it’s different from an XML site map, an HTML sitemap is included in your website whereas an XML sitemap is not a physical page in your website.

It’s easy to create an HTML sitemap on platforms like WordPress and Drupal allow you to do this by just adding a plugin. For WordPress, you can install HTML page sitemap, simple sitemap, Heirarichal HTML sitemap, and many more plugins.

On a platform like a blogger or hard code website, you manually create the HTML sitemap. It is a static HTML sitemap as it does not change on its own. You have to update it whenever you create a new page or post a new article.

 If you’re not sure, consult with your web designer, a freelancer, or consultant, who can update this for you. 

XML SITEMAP

Now let’s dive into a more complex site map, this is known as an XML sitemap.

Now, what is an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap is essentially a file built with XML to direct search engines to find all the relevant pages of your website. It’s basically like an instruction manual for Google or any other search engine to say, here are my pages.

These are the pages I want you to find, and these are the pages I don’t want you to see. It shows the search engine crawler the path and proves information about how often they are updated and is essentially a blueprint for search engines to find your content.

Sometimes you can create pages across your website that don’t have any internal linking or backlinks, but you still want Google to be able to find them and index them.

Well, that’s where you can define those pages within your XML site map and make sure Google can find them. So they don’t just have to rely on links to crawl your website and see all your content.

Your main navigation and links are the first options, but your site map can also instruct Google to index content that can’t be found with the first attempt at crawling. 

All you need to do once you’ve done that is upload it to your website domain, and then you can direct Google to find that site map, using the Google Search Console. It can get quite technical.

It isn’t straightforward to go through and do these things sometimes when it comes to SEO, but it’s still essential. You go ahead and start moving in the direction to do something in the right way. Creating and generating a site map and uploading it to your website is the first thing to do.

Your site map should include a list of all the pages you want Google to find, and if you don’t want Google to find the page by not putting it in your site map, it doesn’t mean Google won’t index it.

If Google can find it, they will probably index it, and in that instance, you need to tell Google separately not to index specific content. The site map will help Google find pages, but it’s not so good at not including pages and not including them in their crawl.

Finally, we’re going to define how to tell Google where your site map is. The first thing you need to do is define your site map in your robots.txt file, so when Google crawls your robots.txt file, it knows where your site map is located, but there’s a more critical way to tell Google where it is as well.

That is to create an account with the Google Search Console and upload your site map locations there because the search console acts as a bridge between your website and what Google understands of your website.

Similarly, you can submit your sitemap to Bing and other search engines by registering in their webmaster tool.

By linking your XML site map to the Google Search Console, Google will always know what the state of play is with your website, in terms of what pages it needs to find and index. It’s essential to create that account on the Google Search Console and upload your XML site map to the Google Search Console. 

Of course, to generate your site map again, as I explained it ultimately depends on the platform your website is built in. If in doubt, speak to your web designer because this is a key, technical SEO area, you need to make sure you get right.

To generate an XML sitemap for Blogger websites visit the sitemap generation website, copy your URL, and it will generate a code. Paste the same in the robots.txt box present in your setting.  

In WordPress plugins like Rank Math and Yoast do this job for you, so you don’t have to do it separately or submit the XML sitemap separately in the search console.

Conclusion

I tried to describe the subject with simple language to make it easy for you to understand. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can write us.

To know what SEO(Search Engine Optimization) please read my other posts 

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