Submitting sitemaps can be an important part of optimizing websites. Site maps enable search engines to discover all pages on a site and to download them quickly when they change.People create sitemaps when they first design their website, add pages to it, and/or redesign it. It’s kind of like a “floor plan” for the site, which especially comes in handy whenever the site gets changed. Along with boosting SEO, sitemaps can also help define a site’s navigation scheme so you avoid internal linking issues. So the best practices for creating sitemaps are:
Research & Plan:
When you first begin planning your sitemap, think about questions like: What are your website’s goals? Who’s your target audience, and what do they want to see?
You’ll also want to keep in mind each search engine’s requirements.Google’s, Bing’s, Yahoo!’s, and others’ requirements are fairly similar, but you’ll want to make sure you’re not breaking any specific requirements for any of them. This is especially true if you see a lot of your traffic is coming from a specific search engine.
To make sure you’re not breaking any rules, check out:
XML sitemaps and RSS/Atom feeds, in their core, are lists of URLs with metadata attached to them. The two most important pieces of information for Google are the URL itself and its last modification time:
URLs in XML sitemaps and RSS/Atom feeds should adhere to the following guidelines:
- Only include URLs that can be fetched by Googlebot. A common mistake is including URLs disallowed by robots.txt — which cannot be fetched by Googlebot, or including URLs of pages that don’t exist.
- Only include canonical URLs. A common mistake is to include URLs of duplicate pages. This increases the load on your server without improving indexing.
Last modification time:
Specify a last modification time for each URL in an XML sitemap and RSS/Atom feed. The last modification time should be the last time the content of the page changed meaningfully. If a change is meant to be visible in the search results, then the last modification time should be the time of this change.
- XML sitemap uses <lastmod>
- RSS uses <pubDate>
- Atom uses <updated>
Be sure to set or update last modification time correctly:
- Specify the time in the correct format: W3C Datetime for XML sitemaps, RFC3339 for Atom and RFC822 for RSS.
- Only update modification time when the content changed meaningfully.
- Don’t set the last modification time to the current time whenever the sitemap or feed is served.
Write it and Submit it:
Once your website’s planned out, it’s time for the technical team to create the XML sitemap, put it on your web server, and then submit it to each individual search engine (Google, Bing, Yahoo!, and so on).
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