What is a sitemap.xml file and how do we use it for SEO?
Note: If you're a client of mine this is already done.
What is a sitemap.xml file?
A sitemap.xml file is a list of pages on a website that the search engines can understand. It lists every page that you wish to be shown in the search engine.
It's important to say this early on, each page that you include in your sitemap is merely a recommendation. It does not guarantee that the page will be included in the results.
For each page we can specify the following pieces of information:
- The URL / web address. (Required)
- Last modification date (Optional)
- Change frequency (Optional)
- Priority for the page as a value between 0-1.
We should point out here that you do not want to set a daily change frequency and high priority for every page. The search engines know that this is not a true reflection for any website. This will essentially discredit your sitemap.xml file and this is certainly not wanted from a SEO point of view.
You can check if you already have a sitemap.xml file by adding /sitemap.xml onto your website address ie http://onlinebusinessbuilders.co.uk/sitemap.xml
How do we use it for SEO?
Once we have created our sitemap.xml file we can submit it to the search engines so that they know about all the pages we want them to. This greatly improves the speed at which you will get in the search engines.
To do so you'll need a webmaster account with them. You'll need to follow their verification process and this will involve either adding some code on your pages or uploading a small file.
We also add a link to the sitemap from our robots.txt file and you can learn more about the robots.txt file here.