You’ve put the time and effort into creating a powerful navigation structure for your website, but you’re not done yet.
You still need to create a sitemap.
If you’re hearing the word “sitemap” for the first time, never fear. You’re in the right place. Let’s talk about what sitemaps are and why they’re so important.
What is a sitemap?
Here’s how the almighty Google describes sitemaps:
A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.
Sitemaps also give search engines other key information like when a page was last updated and more information about the page and files on the page.
From an SEO perspective, sitemaps are invaluable for ensuring all of the pages on your website are indexed. (Indexed simply means the pages search engines know about and can, therefore, serve up for searchers.)
Why do I need a sitemap?
More than likely, search engines will be able to find each of your pages without a problem, especially if you have a robust navigation built. However, there can sometimes be pages (like landing pages, old blogposts, Ecommerce product pages, and more) that can slip through the cracks.
That’s where a sitemap is helpful – it helps make sure search engines can find each and every page on your site.
How to create a sitemap
The good news for you? Creating a sitemap is super easy, and you don’t need to be a developer to create one.
If you’re using WordPress as your Content Management System, I highly recommend installing the Yoast SEO plugin. Yoast will auto-generate your sitemap for you at yourwebsite.com/sitemap_index.xml. (Here’s what ours looks like.)
If you’re using Squarespace, you’ll have a sitemap auto-generated at yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml.
For any other platforms, I recommend doing a quick Google search to find out where yours lives or how to generate one.
How to submit your sitemap
Now that you have a sitemap, the work still isn’t done. Sure, search engines will likely find your sitemap, but why leave it to fate?
To fully ensure Google can find your sitemap, you’ll want to submit it to your Google Search Console account. That way, there’s no question about Google crawling every page on your site.
To do so, log into Search Console and navigate to Sitemaps in the lefthand navigation window. Then, copy and paste your sitemap URL.
Once you click “Submit,” you’ll see your sitemap listed!
And that’s all there is to it!
Now that you know how helpful and powerful sitemaps can be, go create yours and submit to Google Search Console right away!