XML Sitemap Is Icing On The Cake for Your SEO

XML Sitemap Might Be More Valuable Than You Think

When put into a certain perspective, XML sitemaps might not deliver you a direct result for SEO, but there is something else to it. Even though the result is not a direct one, you can surely benefited from an XML sitemap being in your site structure. One of the benefits is that you can list and help crawler to go through your website more accurately.

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A good XML sitemap can be used as a road map for your website, guiding search engines to visit all your important pages. XML sitemaps can be used well for SEO because they allow search engines to find your basic website pages quickly without going through each internal link to get to the end of the path. 

This allows the crawler to locate the URLs that Google may not find during normal crawling. This article will explain what an XML sitemap is and how you can use it to rank better.

What is an XML Sitemap?

XML Sitemap is a file that contains a list of certain URLs of your website. The XML means that the file is saved in XML (Extensible Markup Language) format, a sibling of HTML.

This file is embedded in your site but it does not usually display on the website when you access it. But, the crawler will reference it to collect URLs in the website.

This XML sitemap can be a guide for the search engine robot (crawler) to access your important pages.

Since the search engine spider follows the URLs on the website and collects them, preparing this sitemap might sound like extra work. However, if your website is new, or has hundreds or thousands of pages, the crawler might not access all the pages correctly.

Why is XML Sitemap so important?

When you create a website, the XML website map is not necessary. Even if installed, it will not be directly reflected in the search engine results. Despite this, the reason for the XML website map must be set is that it has an indirect significant impact on the SEO.

It is technically possible to rank a website without using an xml sitemap, however it is definitely making it harder than it needs to be. Think of the sitemap as your formal declaration to Google of which pages should be in the index.

Many SEO tools will also cross check against your sitemap and alert you to errors in pages which it assumed you want to rank (if its in your sitemap, you must want it to rank right?). 

How Can XML Sitemap Help Your SEO?

Sitemap Can Be Used As A Spider Crawling Channel

Search engine do their job by deploying spiders to crawl every site’s pages every day. Then with the data they gathered, they then use their own complex algorithms to rank those pages.

Sometimes, the spiders cannot access a certain site at the node location. This would be difficult for search engines, and the spiders also unable to crawl all pages of the site. A Sitemap can help you solve this problem.

Its just making things easier on Google’s crawlers.

How to Create an XML Sitemap?

Let’s take a look at how to create an XML website map. This is a very basic XML site map, which contains only one URL location information:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?><urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>  <url>    <loc>http://www.example.com/foo.html</loc>    <lastmod>2021-07-01</lastmod>     <changefreq>daily</changefreq>     <priority>1.0</priority>  </url></urlset>

Next, let’s see what the labels above entail.

Urlset

A tag encloses all tags when creating an XML website map and references the current protocol standard.

Url

Each tag contains a web address and is a parent tag of the following tag.

Loc

Here is the address of the page, which is the one you want the spider to crawl. The maximum number of characters is 2,048.

Lastmod

This tag describes the last update date of the file. Basically, it is written in W3C DateTime format, but there is no problem even if YYYY-MM-DD and time are omitted.

Changefreq

This label describes the page update frequency. The search engine uses the value described here as reference information but does not necessarily search with the description.

Priority

It means the priority relative to other pages.

How Most XML Sitemaps are Generated

By and large, XML sitemaps are automatically generated when your site has new content. This is managed on WordPress sites by using a plugin (it doesn’t come native to WordPress, it will always be a plugin). 

How to submit XML Sitemaps to search engines?

After Sitemap.xml is completed, you need to submit an XML file to the relevant search engine.

For example, if you want to appear on google, this can be easily done by yourself through Google Search Console.

Find Out Your Sitemap

Before submitting the sitemap, you need to know where the sitemap is. If you are using a plugin for your website. The URL may be domain.com/sitemap.xml. Or you can search “site:example.com filetype:xml” or “site:example.com inurl:sitemap” on Google.

If you are doing this manually, name the site map to SiteMap, and upload it to the root folder of the website. You should be able to access site maps through domain.com/sitemap.xml.

Locate The Right Resource on Google Search Console

Make sure that you find the property for the domain that you wish to submit a sitemap for – the one that is available for visitors. Remember that HTTP and HTTPS are different, and the URL that starts with www is also different from the URL without it.

Navigate to “Sitemaps” via The “Index” Menu on The Left.

You can choose any name for sitemap, but it is best to use Sitemap.xml in case you get confused. If you have multiple site maps, you can use a simple naming scheme, such as Sitemap_1.xml, Sitemap_2.xml.

Delete Outdated Dnd Old Sitemaps

If there is any old Sitemap that has been submitted which is outdated, you should remove it before submitting a new one. This option can be found by clicking on the three stacked dots in the top right corner.

Add A New Sitemap

Click “Add a new sitemap” and enter your sitemap URL. And the end of the URL is all that needs to be submitted, not the domain portion of the URL. As long as the file is stored on the domain matching the Search Console property.

Let Google Verify It

After all these steps, Google will check to see if the sitemap is found and can be read. And it may take some time, your sitemap may not be crawled right away.

XML Sitemap issues

There may be a series of problems in the process of making and submitting the Sitemap. These problems may affect the SEO of your website to varying degrees. Fortunately, Sitebulb will provide us with some very helpful hints, so that we can easily find and further solve these problems. Here are some common issues about XML Sitemap, and they will be grouped by the level of importance.

Importance: Critical

This level of hints needs immediate attention since the issue may adversely affect crawling, indexing, or ranking.

Not Found (4XX) URL in XML Sitemaps

This means the URL in question returns an HTTP status code of 4XX while also is included in an XML Sitemap.

This is important because you should only include URLs in your XML Sitemap that you want search engines to index. URLs in your sitemaps should be clean.

That is to say, a sitemap should only contain pages that have HTTP status 200 (OK), are indexable, unique, and canonical.

To solve this problem, simply remove any URLs that return 4XX to resolve this issue from all XML Sitemaps.

Error (5XX) URL in XML Sitemaps

This means an XML Sitemap includes a URL that returns an HTTP ‘Error’ status (5XX).

This issue is pretty much the same as the last one. The sitemap should not include any URL that returns an error code.

Error 5XX indicates a problem with the server (rather than the website). To solve this, it may be necessary to speak with a developer or server admin to determine what is causing the server errors. After you fix the server errors, verify that your XML sitemap remains clean.

Noindex URL in XML Sitemaps

This means an XML Sitemap includes a URL that is noindex. Any internal URL that is set to noindex and included in an XML Sitemap will trigger this Hint.

You can resolve it by doing one of the following:

  1. If the URL should not be indexed, remove it from all XML Sitemaps. Then submit the sitemap again on Google Search Console once removed.
  2. Remove the noindex tag if the URL should not be noindex.

Importance: High

There are several important Hints here, and they absolutely deserve attention.

Canonicalized URL in XML Sitemaps

This means the XML Sitemap includes a URL with a canonical element that points to another URL. Sitemaps with canonicalized URLs may present conflicting information to search engines, which could potentially result in unintended URLs getting indexed.

If you want to fix it, you would have to do one of the following:

  1. Remove the URL from all XML Sitemaps if it needs to be canonicalized. After removing it from the sitemap, resubmit it to Google Search Console.
  2. Remove the canonical tag if the URL should not be canonicalized.

Disallowed URL in XML Sitemaps

It means that the URL listed in the XML sitemap is not allowed in robots.txt. When a disallowed URL is included in a sitemap, search engines will get conflicting information, and it can lead to pages being indexed you do not wish to be indexed, which you will usually see like this in the search results:

If you meet this situation, the solution would be to either:

  1. Remove the URL from all XML Sitemaps if it should be disallowed. Afterward, submit the sitemaps again on Google Search Console.
  2. Adjust or remove the corresponding disallow rule in robots.txt if the URL shouldn’t be disallowed.

Forbidden (403) URL in XML Sitemaps

XML Sitemaps include this URL but it returns a HTTP 403 (Forbidden) response. When search engines encounter 403 pages, they may stop trusting the sitemap for crawling and indexing signals.

You can resolve this problem by simply removing all the URLs that return 403 from all your XML Sitemaps.

Note: A 403 (Forbidden) response MAY NOT be the same response given to a search engine crawler. Many servers use overzealous firewalls or “DDoS protection services” that detect crawling activity and respond with 403 errors. Hence, it is worth checking the source of the 403 before taking any action.

Importance: Medium

Hints such as these are worth investigating further and may merit additional attention depending on the number and type of URLs affected.

Redirect (3XX) URL in XML Sitemaps

This means an XML Sitemap includes a URL that returns an HTTP “Redirect” status (3XX).

If search engines find 301 pages, they may stop trusting the sitemaps for crawling and indexing signals. In addition, it presents a conflicting message to search engines about which URL ‘should’ be indexed.

This issue can be resolved by simply removing all URLs returning 3XX from all XML Sitemaps, and replacing them with the destination URL instead (if the destination URL is not already in the sitemap).

Timed out URL in XML Sitemaps

In this case, Sitebulb returns a timed-out response, yet the URL is included in an XML Sitemap.

Pages that time out may also cause search engines to stop trusting sitemaps for crawling and indexing signals.

Besides problems with trust with your sitemap, URLs that time out may represent overloaded or misconfigured servers and cause persistent problems.

Timed-out URLs may indicate that the server is having difficulty responding to the request, or there may be an issue with the URL itself that takes too long to respond – such as a large or complex database query.

It is advisable to check Google Search Console ‘crawl errors’ for issues with URL time outs. If so, you may need to work with a developer or server administrator to determine why timeouts are occurring.

Once the timeout issues have been resolved, you should make sure the XML Sitemap remains clean.

Importance: Insight

Insights do not require any action on your part – they are simply brought to your attention so that you can investigate them further with the information they provide.

URL in multiple XML Sitemaps

This means that the URL in question appears in more than one XML Sitemap.

In spite of the fact that it is not a bad idea to include URLs in multiple sitemaps, it might obscure some of the insights you can gain from the Google Search Console ‘Sitemaps’ report. 

In addition, URLs in multiple sitemaps could indicate a mistake, and some URLs are actually missing from sitemaps as a result.

Make Your Own XML Sitemap Better Now

Creating an XML sitemap does not necessarily help improve search rankings. Nor that the result of your effort will directly show any result. Despite this, the XML sitemap is important from the SEO angle in that the search engines can clearly see which pages should be indexed.