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  • Writer's pictureMarc Primo

Here’s How Sitemaps Can Help You Rank

This is an article “Here’s How Sitemaps Can Help You Rank” by Marc Primo

In digital marketing, helping people find the exact websites they are looking for is always crucial to gaining a higher ranking. Sitemaps are like road signs on a map wherein search engines like Google reviews them while crawling your website. Algorithms determine the critical elements on your site that they can recommend to users. That makes labeling your page elements with essential information can increase your chances of ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Since the birth of digital marketing, sitemaps have already been among the things one cannot do away with to increase chances of ranking higher. However, they are more critical today when almost all businesses worldwide have adopted an online component to push their brands on page one. Google's changing algorithms also factor in how one must provide the correct information on these sitemaps. Nonetheless, configuring them will boost your SEO and the competitive keywords associated with the pages, videos, and other files on your websites and landing pages.

Unfortunately, many marketers still get confused about configuring sitemaps and how to align them with SEO frameworks. This article makes things more straightforward by reviewing how sitemaps work and which tactics are best to give your websites higher rankings.

How sitemaps work

With the correct information provided on your page elements, Google can crawl your page more efficiently, which makes optimizing it critical to your SEO efforts. For the basics, marketers use sitemaps to help direct Google into more specific pages based on every user's search intent.

For example, Sitemaps videos should have running times and categories, images with file types and licenses, articles with titles and publishing dates, so on and so forth.

Properly linking your sitemaps gives Google the essential information to rank your website on its SERPs efficiently. Doing this tactic means optimizing your site menus, links, images, and other such content via navigation.

While sitemaps are just one of the many factors that can help boost your ranking, they are a huge help in how search engines crawl and index your pages, given that they align with complex algorithms. They are beneficial to your websites and landing pages if you work with large amounts of segmented files, content pages, media content, or if your website is relatively new and only has a limited number of external links.

Why Do You Need A Sitemap?

XML sitemaps are text files that indicate the list of URLs open for search engine crawling. So, imagine not having such information as crawlers look for attributes that match a user's search intent. Your website will easily be overlooked and won't gain any online traffic, much higher rankings on page one even if it can be the exact match a user needs.

Think of sitemaps as a Swiss army knife that brings out the necessary tools (or, in this case, information) that search engines can use to give users what they need. The information helps dissect your website's content, structure, and relevance. Without them, your site would be like an employee without an ID that can be denied entry or unrecognized by others.

Another reason why you need to optimize your sitemaps is that they serve as references to your SEO performance. Adding your XML sitemaps in your Robots.txt file instructs search engines the proper and easiest way to crawl your website, and not doing so will only limit your opportunity to be indexed.

How to build a sitemap

Aside from XML sitemaps, other formats submitted as sitemaps include RSS/mRSS/Atom 1.0 feeds. Most blogging platforms like Wix or WordPress can eventually create these sitemaps for you, and all you have to do is regularly update the feeds. RSS 2.0 and Atom 1.0 feeds can also help optimize the video content on your website as opposed to the now more uncommon HTML types.

When building sitemaps, your canonical URLs will tell Google which ones to display on SERPs. If your sitemap has less than 12 URLs, you can manually create it via text editor programs and follow the proper syntax for each respective format. Those with more significant numbers of URLs will require you to tap software assistance in generating sitemaps that can extract your site's URLs from the database and export them to the screen or your web server. It would be best to consult a software expert on generating these types of sitemaps.

Building sitemaps for Google also requires compliance to a few guidelines for all applicable formats.

These include the following:

  • All formats must be limited to 50MB uncompressed and should not exceed 50,000 URLs

  • Encoding should be in UTF-8

  • Crawlers in the sitemap file will only detect fully qualified URLs. Don't add session IDs from your URLs

  • Text file sitemaps should be suffixed with the extension ".txt"

  • Sitemaps will only be associated with your parent directory

  • Sitemaps should indicate alternate URL language versions

  • Include canonical URLs in your sitemaps, select one version of similar pages or sites to be indexed, and annotate your desktop and mobile versions

  • Do not use non-alphanumeric and non-Latin text or characters

Optimizing your visual sitemaps

Another way sitemaps can help you rank is through the visual kind. These work best for those that rely on digital websites that heavily utilize designs and videos. They work as flowcharts that present your website's primary attributes, including user flow, architecture, and content.

Optimizing your visual sitemap entails formulating a content strategy that aligns with your website's goals. List down your site's key performance indicators and populate your website with content that best meets your objectives. Whether you design your website or landing page for lead generation or brand awareness, you can create a better user experience and content by curating the visual elements you'll include on the site.

Keep each type of buyer personas central to how you design your landing pages visually. Show brand logos and elements for awareness, product beauty shots for consideration, and catalog images for conversions. Determine which images work for each stage of your marketing funnel, use the helpful content within your inventory, and label your images so they can be efficient sitemaps for Google.


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