Sitemaps are an important part of your technical SEO strategy and will benefit crawlers and users. In this guide, we will look at different types of sitemaps, their benefits and how to fix sitemap errors Site Audit Tool.
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap provides information about the structure of your website. You mostly use them to crawl crawlers and users to your site.
Sitemaps are available in XML (eXtensible Mark-up Language) or HTML format. XML files share important information about your website – such as its internal links, backlinks, and page structure – in a language that search engine crawlers understand.
These search engine crawlers (like Google’s crawlers) take this information into account when deciding on a page authority for your website and ranking in their SERP services.
Why are Sitemaps important?
Sitemaps tell search robots which parts of your website are important. Bots can use an XML Sitemap to better understand how your website’s websites are linked to each other and how your website is usually built.
Search engines also use your XML Sitemaps to index the content of your website and hosted files (such as images or videos). The more search engines understand your site, the better chance you have of ranking in the right keywords.
Users use HTML Sitemaps to explore your site in depth. Your HTML Sitemap typically includes the most important pages on your website.
There are generally 2 types of sitemaps: XML and HTML.
Although they have similar functions, there are a few important differences. It is common for SEO professionals to utilize both their strategies to target search engine crawlers and users.
XML Sitemaps are written for search engine robots, not users. An XML Sitemap allows you to share technical information about your website, such as how many pages you have and how often they are updated.
You want to connect with search engines when things change on your site. New or updated content notifies search engine robots that your content is likely to be relevant or useful and that you are likely to be an authority in your field or niche.
See our guide to create your own XML Sitemap A more in-depth look at XML Sitemap files.
HTML Sitemaps are similar to XML files in that they describe the pages and links available on your website. Search engine robots can crawl your HTML Sitemap, and their use sends strong user experience signals to Google.
However, as an HTML file, the user can open such a Sitemap in their browser. Your HTML Sitemap should include links to help the user navigate your website.
We’ve been talking about HTML Sitemaps for a long time a step-by-step guide to creating your own HTML Sitemap.
What’s the difference between XML Sitemaps and HTML Sitemaps?
XML Sitemaps are written for crawlers to crawl.
HTML Sitemaps are browsable by users on your website. You can often find HTML Sitemaps in website footers to help you navigate.
Examples of XML Sitemaps
Examples of HTML Sitemaps
Source: Good guys
Sitemap best practices
A sitemap is essential to help Google crawl your website. While a Sitemap is likely to look different from your competitors, there are some general best practices to consider when creating your own map.
You can use Site Audit Tool when you set up a Sitemap to make sure it is configured correctly. The tool includes more than 120 pages of technical search engine optimization checks that highlight, for example, broken links, orphaned pages, and other blocks that prevent crawlers from crawling your site.
This tool allows you to find and fix errors on your website before submitting a Sitemap. You must configure the project in Semrush before you can perform the scan.
Once the project is available, select the tool from the project control panel and start configuring the audit:
When the scan is complete, the tool returns a list of errors with priority:
Other best practices include:
Include important pages
You can configure
Priorities are set in time intervals, such as 0.0, 0.1, 0.2, etc., Always to 1.0. The highest priority page is set to 1.0. If all pages are given the same priority, Google can’t tell which pages are really important. Make sure you tag the pages properly.
Changing the frequency
You can set
You can use 7 changefreq tags:
- Never: The content of this page is static and will not change. This tag would be used for news articles, press releases and similar content.
- Annually: Use this tag if you have annual events, sales, or reports.
- Monthly: This tag may be best for FAQ pages, monthly reports, or blogs that are updated only once a month.
- Weekly: You can use this tag on product pages, blog posts that are updated weekly, or “weekly review” newsletters.
- Daily: This tag is best suited for news pages, discussion boards, and blog posts.
- Hourly: Major news websites use this tag for weather updates, for example.
- Always: This tag is stock pages, Twitter feeds, and similar web content that is constantly updated.
Avoid Noindexed pages
When you submit a Sitemap to Google, you’ll be asked to crawl your site. If you have a page named “noindex”, you should not submit it to a Sitemap file.
Avoid Duplicate Content Sometimes you like duplicate content for archiving; for example, you can upgrade to a previous version of a document if you have updated it.
However, Google penalizes duplicate content, so you should set noindex as duplicate pages.
Use multiple Sitemaps
If you have a large website, your Sitemap may be too large to upload. Sitemap files must be at most 50MB or at most 50,000 URLs.
In this case, it may be a good idea to have more than one Sitemap. Even if you’re close to this number, it’s a good idea to split the file into multiple XML Sitemaps so you can speed up the indexing process.
Large ecommerce sites can also benefit from developing sitemaps for different categories and product pages.
Sitemaps allow search engines and users to navigate your website. Either way, they are useful files.
You can change and modify your Sitemap as needed. When you do, reload the Sitemap so that Google always crawls your most updated content.
Site checks help you find potential errors that can affect the crawl of your website. Run a site check regularly for these errors and correct them before submitting your Sitemap to search engines.