XML Sitemaps: How to Use Them To Boost SEO

Google is getting better at understanding queries with every new algorithm. There are so many improvements, but it still needs some help. You should guide the crawlers to index pages you consider important to your website. XML Sitemaps helps Google crawlers understand the content of a website. The name sounds too technical, but the concept is too simple. When you understand about XML Sitemaps, you will find it easy to boost your SEO through them.

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML Sitemap is a file that provides the crawlers with the list of pages on a website. It tells crawlers the available content on a website and ways to access then. It also has information about the date the content was last modified, and the importance of content on the website. XML Sitemaps help the crawlers navigate information on the site, while HTML sitemaps help visitors access your site. If you don’t want to work on technical stuff, hire an SEO company to create sitemaps on your behalf.

Send Sitemaps to Google

When you submit a sitemap, you tell Google that you believe that the content is valuable and Google should index it. Google accepts sitemaps with a maximum of 50MB when they are uncompressed. Likewise, it accepts up to 50,000 URLs in a sitemap. If the file is large, you have to break it down and send them as individual sitemaps. You can also get the help of an SEO company to help you with sitemaps.

You must keep Google’s guidelines and protocols for XML sitemaps. Even if you use tools to automatically create XML sitemaps, make sure that they follow Google’s guidelines. So, ensure that you get the digital marketing services in India from agencies that follow Google’s guidelines.

Before you send your sitemap, double-check for errors in your content. You have to fix it so that Google crawlers find them accessible. There is no guarantee that your pages will be indexed, but you should increase your chances of them being indexed. 

After checking for errors, go to Google Search Console to submit the sitemaps. In the left toolbar in the Console, you will see “sitemaps”. Click on that, and you will see a page that says, “Add a new sitemap”. You should paste your sitemap URL and click submit. That is how you can get Google to index your pages faster. To make your task easier, consider working with experts providing digital marketing services in India.

Prioritize pages based on their importance

The overall quality of the site is crucial for rankings. If the crawler scans thousands of low-quality pages, it will affect your rankings. So, tell Google the most important content and pages on the website. Google allows you to rank your pages and give them a score between 0.1 to 1. The pages with high scores will get the most attention from crawlers. 

You should assign high scores for pages that are frequently updated. It includes the pages that host your blogs, videos, images, and other content types. Since they undergo optimization frequently for a better user experience, you should give them a higher score. 

The static pages on the website will not undergo such changes. It includes your privacy policy, about page, terms and conditions page. You can give them a lower score to avoid spending a large portion of your crawl budget on these pages. 

Prioritizing pages and ranking them is also part of SEO. You limit Google crawlers’ ability to scan your low-quality pages while highlighting your best-performing ones.

Include only the Canonical URLs in the Sitemaps

Sometimes your site will have pages with similar content that could confuse Google crawlers. Those pages will prevent you from ranking higher. When that happens, you can use a canonical tag to tell Google which page is more important. In the same way, you should only include canonical URLs in your sitemap. Otherwise, your website will have duplicate content issues, and it will pull down the rankings of the original page. 

Avoid Noindex URLs

You don’t want certain pages on your website to show up in searches, but they are still valuable to you. When you put a noindex tag, these pages won’t receive any traffic. You should not include the noindex URLs in your sitemaps. If you include them, it will confuse the crawlers and will waste your crawling budget. So, make sure that you remove all noindex URLs for good SEO results.

Keep your Sitemaps small

Google allows you to submit sitemaps with a file size of up to 50 MB and a maximum of 50,000 URLs. But that’s the maximum limit, and you don’t have to meet that number. A smaller sitemap makes the task easy for the crawlers. But if you have a large website, you should create multiple sitemaps to reduce the workload for the crawlers and the server.

Conclusion 

XML Sitemaps are not all complicated like they sound. The concept itself is simple in that you provide Google with an overview of your website. With the help of Google Console, you teach Google which content is more important. That will help Google index your pages quicker than other means.