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Hand holding pencil drawing out sitemap on paper

Sitemaps for SEO: Improve Webpage Discovery and Indexing

A sitemap is a file that lists the URLs of your website’s pages and provides additional information about each URL, such as:

  • when it was last updated;
  • how often it changes and;
  • how important it is relative to other URLs on your site.

This information helps search engines like Google discover and index your website’s pages more efficiently.

Types of Sitemaps

There are two main types of sitemaps:

XML Sitemaps

Example of an XML sitemap

These are the most common type of sitemap and are used for search engine optimisation (SEO).

They are written in XML format and can be submitted to search engines through various methods.


HTML Sitemaps (Visual Sitemaps)

HTML sitemap

These are human-readable sitemaps that are designed to help users navigate your website.

They are typically displayed as an unordered list of links to the various pages on your site and use indentation to demonstrate hierarchy.

This type of sitemap can be helpful for both users and search engines to understand how your website is organised.

Our Sitemap Recommendation

Recommended graphic

We recommend having both an XML sitemap and an HTML sitemap for your website.


How to Create an SEO-Friendly Sitemap

There are several ways to create a sitemap, including:

Manual sitemap creation

Text editor apps for coding sitemaps

You can create a sitemap manually using a text editor application to hand code your sitemap.

This method can be time-consuming (especially if you have a large website) and is prone to human error, so it is not recommended.


Generate a sitemap using an online tool

Onlie sitemap generator

Several online tools can help you create a sitemap for free such as:

Once you have created an XML sitemap, it will need to be uploaded to the root directory of your website.

You can do this either by using the file manager on your web hosting or by connecting to your server using an FTP program.

If this is too advanced for you, you should be able to reach out to the technical support of your web hosting provider to have the sitemap uploaded for you.


Use a sitemap plugin for your website

WordPress sitemap plugins search

If your website is built using a popular content management system (CMS) such as WordPress, there are many plugins available that can help you create and manage a sitemap automatically.

Some of the popular (and free) pure sitemap plugins for WordPress include:

This is the best option for sitemap creation because once it is set up, you won’t need to take any further action and your sitemap will work.


Benefits of Implementing a Sitemap

Screenshot from inside Google search console sitemap management section

1. Improving Crawl Efficiency

Search engines have limited resources to crawl websites. A sitemap acts like a roadmap, providing them with a list of all the important pages on your website.

This helps them discover new pages and update to existing pages more efficiently, as they don’t have to spend as much time trying to find them on their own.


2. Highlighting Important Pages

A sitemap allows you to specify the priority and frequency of each page.

This helps search engines understand which pages are most important to you and how often they are updated. This can lead to these pages being crawled and indexed more quickly.


3. Identifying Orphaned Pages

Orphaned pages are pages on your website that are not linked to any other page.

This means that search engines may never find them on their own. A sitemap can help you identify these orphaned pages so that you can fix the internal linking and make them crawlable.


4. Faster Indexing of New Content

When you add new pages to your website, it can take some time for search engines to discover and index them.

Submitting a sitemap with the new URLs can help speed up this process.


5. Providing Additional Information to search engines

In addition to the URLs of your pages, a sitemap can also provide search engines with additional information about each page, such as the last time it was updated, the language it is written in, and the location of any multimedia content such as images.

See our guide on how to optimise images for SEO.

This information can help search engines understand the content of your pages better and index them more accurately.

It’s important to note that a sitemap is not a guarantee of indexing.

Search engines may still choose not to index a page even if it is included in your sitemap.

This is because they have their criteria for determining which pages to index.


Frequently Asked Questions 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about sitemaps:

Q: Do I need a sitemap if my website is small?

A: Yes, even small websites can benefit from using a sitemap. It can help search engines discover and index your website’s pages more efficiently, which can lead to higher rankings in search results.

Q: How often do I need to update my sitemap?

A: You should update your sitemap whenever you change your website’s structure or content.

For example, if you add new pages to your website, you should update your sitemap to include the new URLs.

Q: Can I submit my sitemap to more than one search engine?

A: Yes, you can submit your sitemap to multiple search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo etc. This will help ensure that your website’s pages are indexed by all major search engines.

Q: What is an image site map?

A: The image sitemap serves to notify search engines about the images within your content. Subsequently, search engines may choose to explore and catalogue these images, rendering them qualified for presentation in search results. The image sitemap can exist independently or be integrated into another sitemap

Q: Do I need to do anything else to improve my SEO?

A: Using a sitemap is just one step to improve your SEO. There are many other things you can do, such as creating high-quality content, building backlinks to your website, and optimising your website’s meta page titles and meta descriptions.

Here are some resources that you may find helpful:


Closing Thoughts

At our SEO Agency on the Gold Coast, sitemaps are one of the first things we create and submit for our clients when we start an SEO campaign.

By following these best practices, you can help ensure that your sitemap is as effective as possible in helping search engines discover and index your website’s pages.

Need Help with SEO?

Need help with your local SEO? Work directly with our in-house team of digital marketing and SEO experts to increase traffic and leads for your business.

Contact us for a phone consultation on (07) 5531 3810  or arrange a meeting to explore how we can enhance your online presence and improve your visibility in Google Search.

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Acknowledgement of Country

We respectfully acknowledge the people of the Yugambeh language region, the traditional owners of the land on which we stand, and pay our respect to their elders past and present, and all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples who now live in the local area.

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