It’s true that when it comes to SEO, there are just a ton of terms. From Keywords to meta descriptions, the list just keeps on going. In this endless stream of knowledge, the internet is filled with information; correct and misleading both! Many people would know the basics and act like pros in their write-ups, creating a flow of misconceptions and ineffective practices. This is why many beginner web developers are unable to master their SEO, as they simply extract information from such misleading articles and follow them in practical life.
A lot of such misleading information also revolves around XML sitemaps. However, if you are reading this blog, it is ensured that you will be provided legitimate guidance only. Bthrust SEO Singapore has been in the field for several years now and enjoys an edge over other companies on the dint of its expertise and practical understanding. This blog is a portrayal of our extensive SEO knowledge! We have seen the magic of taking sites from the deep down in the search results to the top places!
When you come across XML sitemaps, it does seem something mysterious and complicated! And yes, many people on the internet have played their part in making it sound complex too. However, in this blog article, you will see precisely how simple it is and what are the various benefits of implementing these sitemaps on your website.
What Is an XML Sitemap?
Going old school, we will start with the definitions. XML sitemap refers to a pathway that a search engine robot follows in order to reach a particular page within a web site. It is essentially a web that structures different web pages in a hierarchical order, helping search engine robots navigate in their crawling process.
Before you can fully grasp the concept, let’s see how search engine bots or crawlers work. Whenever a search is made, these crawlers begin their work by going through billions of web pages and sites available on the internet. They hop from one page to another through links until they land on a relevant search result. XML sitemaps provide clear directions to these bots to help them locate the right results.
Whenever a crawler reaches a website, it must look for an XML sitemap. They are essential for sites that contain tons of pages, requiring the crawler a map to follow. With a hierarchical overview, they ensure that the bots reach the exact page without forsaking any.
Moreover, if a web developer is consistent with adding new pages or content to his site, these sitemaps become imperative. This ensures that nothing is hidden from the search engine, and you have maximum chances of showing up in the top results.
Besides, since there are no disadvantages of adding one, many website owners simply prefer them for this reason. Integrating well structured and effective XML sitemaps only enhance your chances of performing better in the world of SEO, making them a no-brainer choice
If you want to integrate XML sitemaps into your website without facing any trouble or hassle, you can let Bthrust SG do the job for you. Our experts are deeply associated with their use and integration and have helped many websites benefit from them. We understand the nitty-gritty of the field and are meticulous in our way around strong and updated SEO practices.
XML Sitemap Format
XML sitemaps follow a particular format that is universal across the realm of web development. Some of the critical components of the format are as follows:
Location tag, also known as Loc Tag, is a relatively simple but significant part of XML sitemaps. It specifies the exact URL of the page without any omissions and errors. It is the part that helps the crawler understand where to jump in its pathway along the length of the website. This makes it a compulsory tag too.
Loc tags are also significant for two more reasons. One, they incorporate hreflang tags. Second, they must contain the exact protocol of the site. Hreflang is only relevant if you have multiple versions of the same site in different languages and want to help the crawler locate every page. This comes under the umbrella of International SEO, in which you target multiple regions and make your content user-friendly. As for site protocols, you need to state whether you opt for http or HTTPS. Along with that, in the case of excluding www. you need to indicate that too in the Loc tag.
Also, one thing that needs your consideration is that adding hreflang optimises your site for faster loading times, according to geographic factors.
Last modified tag
Google uses the last modified tag to ensure if you are the original owner and publisher of the site. It states the last date and time you modified your content, helping the search engine locate the page. Also, since Google loves new content and this tag enables you to portray precisely that, it works in your favour to enhance your chances of better indexation and overall performance.
However, one thing that you must be cautious about is that you must update these dates in line with the changes you make in your file or content. Although it is an optional tag, we believe you must use it!
Change frequency tag
Change frequency tag can be considered as one of those souvenirs no one uses today. It was thought to help search engines know the frequency of changes a website owner is expected to make on his site. However, in this modern age and time, it is not believed to yield any special results. Therefore, you can simply ignore it, but yes, it is a part of the XML sitemap format.
Priority tag was also used in the past. On a scale of 0-10, it lets the search engine know how important a web page is.
Types of Sitemaps
Here is the list of XML sitemaps you can expect to use:
XML Image Sitemap
XML image sitemap serves primarily to improve a crawler’s indexation for images. However, today, every website embeds pictures within the content, and therefore it is of no use.
However, if your images are a source of website traffic, for instance, in an eCommerce business, you should consider using them to improve indexation and enhance website performance.
XML Video Sitemap
If your website uses a lot of video content, you can consider using XML video sitemaps. However, they are entirely optional – if you don’t deal with videos, you can simply discard them off.
Google News Sitemap
If your website is registered with Google News, you must use Google News sitemaps. All of your most recent articles, i.e. ones published in the last two days, must go in there. Moreover, you need to regularly update them as per the frequency of your content.
Mobile sitemaps can also be considered as a form of souvenir. This is because they are only concerned with feature phones. And you must be wondering who uses a feature phone in this age! And well, you are right! You don’t have to use them for smartphones unless you have certain feature phone compatibility in your mind.
HTML sitemaps are also not considered as strong contenders in the types available. They are integrated to benefit human users and enhance their experience by helping them navigate their way around your site.
Dynamic XML Sitemap
Static XML sitemaps can often be a source of distress. This is because they don’t update themselves when you make a change in the web content. Similarly, they won’t register additions to your website pages. On the other hand, dynamic XML sitemaps are much more powerful! They can automatically update the map as you modify their content.
Dynamic XML sitemaps are a bit complex, and you would need the expertise of an SEO expert for their integration. You can choose us for this complicated task, as we have done it before and can guarantee an effective XML sitemap structure.
XML Sitemap Optimization
In our experience as an SEO company in Singapore, we have learnt numerous sitemap optimisation techniques. In order to extract maximum benefit from your sitemap integration, you should only add important pages. Important means they must contain a value for the user as you don’t want unnecessary pages to be crawled. That would only lead to poor use of the crawl budget.
Similarly, you should also try to remove pages that offer minimum or zero benefits for you and your user.
Best practice in XML Sitemap
One of the best things you can do is compress your sitemap using gzip. This will reduce the file size by a significant margin. Also, adding a hreflang tag is always recommended to counter problems such as content duplication. As a top-notch digital marketing agency Singapore, we recommend using only one sitemap for all your URLs and pages.