Working hard to perfectly plan new, SEO-focused content for your website is always worthwhile. But if your results are stalling, you might find the solution isn’t about creating new pages, but fixing the structure you already have. One of the most common problems our SEO Manager, Charlotte Fish finds is that XML sitemaps haven’t been optimised.
Why build an XML sitemap?
Optimising your sitemap lets search engines know exactly which pages and files to look at and precisely where to find them. By sharing this information with search engines, they can more efficiently crawl that key information and understand the purpose of your site. Simply put, it helps your website get recognised for the right reasons.
If you have a particularly small website (less than 100 pages) then it can be less of a priority, but larger websites will suffer without the guidance of an XML sitemap. In addition, sites that lack a solid internal linking or link-building strategy will also benefit from an XML sitemap.
Your XML sitemap should be a priority in your optimal SEO strategy, once you have established the key pages, you can then focus on those for your technical SEO as well as your on-page SEO work in order to rank higher for search queries relevant to your pages. When ready, you can submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster to speed up the process of their crawlers finding and processing your site.
How to build a sitemap
Using a sitemap generator suitable for your platform is the best way to build your XML sitemap. If you have a notably large site, for example a large ecommerce retail platform, then a sitemap index should be created to make it more digestible. This is essentially another file that lists all your sitemaps. There are excellent free plugins and software available, and there are paid options that can offer more configuration options. We’re well-versed in them all.
What to include in a sitemap
For the best search engine optimisation, make sure only canonical URLs that return a 200 status code are included, you can ensure individual pages aren’t included by adjusting settings on those specific pages or you can exclude a whole section by configuring the generator to do so. Do not include any pages that you have set to ‘No Index’, this is confusing to search engines and can harm your SEO.
This is just the beginning of the fixes we can recommend. Want to leave it up to the experts? For help with optimising your XML sitemap and kickstarting a strong SEO strategy, get in touch.