Create an XML Sitemap – SEO Tips – Common Marketing Steps to achieve SEO Results

Common Marketing & SEO Checklist SEO best practices and guidance to help your website perform online.

Why Create an XML Sitemap is important for your website and SEO

XML sitemaps are text files stored in your website’s root directory that list and provide details of every URL on your website. These details include last change date, change frequency, importance and alternate versions of the page accessible at other URLs. You can also include details for videos and images. If you have more than 1,000 images, you can create sitemaps dedicated to just those files.Like robots.txt files, sitemaps aren’t ranking factors. But they do help search engines find, crawl and index your pages. They also tell search engines how important your pages are, relative to the rest of your site, so the bots can make the most of their crawl budget and crawl your site more intelligently and efficiently.If you have an international or multilingual site, you can include hreflang tags to help search engines serve the right version to users based on location and/or language.

How to Create an XML Sitemap.

You can write your XML sitemap yourself if you have the time, or use a tool to do it for you. There are several free tools available online and many web services will create a sitemap for your as part of your subscription.When creating your sitemap you must first decide which pages you want to include, and which pages you want to disallow via robots.txt and the meta robots tag. Then, you must decide what your canonical URL will look like (protocol, www resolve, capital letters, etc.). This is essential because you have to use absolute URLs in your sitemap; they can’t lead to redirects.After you’ve created your sitemap, make sure it’s not too big. You’re limited to 50,000 URLs and 10MB. If it’s too big, break it up into smaller sitemaps and create a sitemap index (a sort of sitemap of sitemaps) file for your site. Ensure that the URLs in your sitemap don’t have parameters like session IDs and that special characters are properly escaped.Before adding your sitemap to your site, ease the load on your server by compressing it. Use gzip to compress your sitemaps as search engines struggle to access .zip files.The last step before adding your sitemap to your site is to test it using Google Search Console’s Add/Test Sitemap tool. Fix any errors it finds and add your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing (via Bing Webmaster Tools). Add your sitemap location to your robots.txt files to make it easier for search engines to find.

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