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What Is an XML Sitemap and How It Can Optimise Your Website

What Is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap contains all URLs of your website and serves as a blueprint through which search engines can index and crawl through your websites. An XML sitemap is composed of the following tags.

Location (Loc) Tag

This tag stores a URL location’s exact, canonical version. It indicates the use of website protocol and the inclusion/exclusion of www. It also allows managing ‘hreflang handling’ with international websites.

Last Modified (Lastmod) Tag

By default, this tag is optional. It represents the last modified time and date of a file. These metrics allow Google to establish whether or not you were the real publisher of a content piece or not.

Change Frequency Tag

This tag indicates how regularly a web page is expected to change. Accepted values never include yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, and always.

Priority Tag

This tag indicates the relativity of the importance of one URL to another URL of your website. It accepts values in the range from 0 to 1.0.

How Does an XML Sitemap Work?

When you use XML sitemaps, you essentially define a list of web pages that you suggest the search engines crawl. Subsequently, they send a spider that can crawl a defined set of web pages.

Web pages that are added in the sitemap are generally the most integral in the website. Therefore, in layman terms, you use a sitemap to communicate to the search engines that “Please place special emphasis on these web pages”.

When you add only those pages in the sitemap that are optimised properly, it facilitates search engines in crawling effectively, and you can earn the benefits of improved indexation. Among web pages that are not included in the sitemap, some display the following issues.

  • Duplicated web pages
  • Non-canonical web pages
  • URLs with session ids
  • Paginated pages
  • Results pages with website search
  • URLs with reply comments
  • Archive pages
  • txt’s blocked pages

To understand how a Sitemap optimises your website, let’s consider an example. If you are a website owner of 100 web pages, then perhaps not all of your web pages are optimised. You can take the best SEO-based web pages, around 40 pages, and add them in the XML sitemap. This means that Google is more likely to index these web pages.

Moving forward, if Google finds that from the 40 pages, most of them have good content, let’s say around 30 of them, then as a result, Google is certain that your website is a high-quality website and improves the rank of your website

On the other hand, if you submit all your 100 web pages, the remaining web pages with poor SEO can force Google to rank you lower.

If you want to add an XML sitemap and optimise it, you contact us for guidance.