How To Make A Sitemap?
4 steps to making a sitemap
In the age before GPS, people used maps to help them navigate streets and highways to get to unfamiliar destinations. It helped them get a better idea of how the different streets connected and the most efficient means of getting to a destination. A sitemap serves a similar purpose. It documents and records how different pages connect and how the pages of your domain interact so that search engines can crawl it more efficiently and better understand the site as a whole. Knowing how to make a sitemap, therefore, plays an important role in SEO.
Creating a sitemap does not have to be a confusing or challenging process, but it does have several steps that site owners should follow.
- Determine how your site is organized
- Organize your pages in relation to each other
- Begin coding your URLs
- Check your coding by validating your sitemap
1. Determine how your site is organized. You want to begin by looking at how the key sections on your site are organized. For example, begin at your home page. Record this page at the top. Then, list the pages that link directly to your home page. These would be the pages that likely appear in your menu bar or other navigational features on your page.
From these opening pages that connect to your homepage, you want to branch out and find the pages that connect to those pages, and so on. This will help you detail how your site is organized.
As you build your list of pages, make sure that you only use the pages that you want publicly crawled by these search engines. You do not want to include the login page for a member, for example, or the thank you page for a purchase.
2. Organize your pages in relation to each other. Now, you want to consider the priority of the pages. Every site should have a hierarchy of pages that are more or less important to the domain. Your most important pages should connect more closely to your homepage, while your less important pages get further and further from this core part of your domain. You can add a wight factor to each page listed in the sitemap.
In your list of web pages, you will want to make sure that the pages are similarly organized in order of importance. For SEO purposes, you want to aim to build a more shallow sitemap, with pages organized in shorter categories rather than deeper categories. Pages that are close to the core of your domain will generally rank higher than pages that start to get really deep - and far away - from your core domain.
3. Populate your URLs. Once you have organized your pages, you will next populate each one. This coding process will involve collecting important information on each URL. Specifically, you will want to collect the location of the page on your domain, the last time the page was updated, how often the page is updated, and the priority of the page within the domain.
4. Check your coding by validating your sitemap. You should not have any errors in your coding. Yet, everyone makes mistakes. Therefore, you will need to validate your sitemap before you submit it to Google or any other search engine. Fortunately, there are a number of tools that you can use to validate your site map and ensure that it has been set up correctly.
If this process appears too complicated for you, many tools and plugins can help with the entire site map generation process. Google offers a list of popular options.
Following this process to create your sitemap will boost your SEO and give you a strong sense of the organization of your site. You will make it easier for search engine robots, as well as your visitors, to find important information and engage with your content.