Do you have an XML Sitemap on your website? If not, it is time you paid attention to what you have been missing out on. An XML Sitemap provides online visitors with a complete layout of your website, which lets them quickly locate the right links and pages. Google, when assigning page rankings, takes into account the average time each visitor spends on a website. Visitors are more likely to spend time on your website if the layout facilitates easy navigation from one page to the next.
Despite the user-friendliness and SEO benefits that are associated with XML Sitemaps, some website owners still find fault in them. However, this is mainly due to lack of research on how to use XML Sitemaps to their advantage.
XML Sitemaps let websites get indexed by search engines
Search engines use software known as spiders to explore the internet, and gather information on blogs and websites. These spiders help search engines categorize websites according to their keywords. However, a blog or website must possess certain qualities in order to qualify for indexing - which is a continuous process, because spiders have to keep track of newly created blogs and websites. They likewise report dead sites to search engines for immediate de-indexing. This is the process of deleting extinct blogs and websites from search engines’ databases.
Confusion creeps in because people don’t understand the role of XML Sitemaps and search engine spiders. An XML Sitemap simply provides search engines with the layout of a website, and a hierarchy of its web pages. The spiders capture this information, and relay it to the main search engine database. When you alter your website’s structure, the XML Sitemap relays the updates to search engines.
You can use XML Sitemaps after blocking a web page using robots.txt
The ‘noindex, follow’ command lets website owners set aside utility web pages that don’t necessarily require indexing. For example, the dashboard to your Facebook or Twitter accounts contain ‘noindex, follow’ commands because they hold confidential information. Some blog owners exchange nofollow web pages as a means to organically boost each other’s search engine rankings.
The reason why some website owners complain about XML Sitemap’s consistency issues is due to failing to update it after blocking certain web pages using ‘noindex, follow’ commands. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and, other search engines rely on XML Sitemaps to provide information about the pages available on a website. A failure to make swift updates leads to a massive loss of web traffic, because end-users cannot access the landing pages suggested by various search engines.
Imagine how it would feel if you’re touring a city, but the map you’re using leads you to non-existent locations. That’s exactly how it feels when someone clicks a link on Google only to find that particular web page is missing.
You should list all your web pages in your XML Sitemap
Search engines use various marking schemes to grade a webpage’s overall quality for a particular keyword. Some of these factors include average time spent on the web page, number of credible backlinks pointing to that particular web page, number of comments received, and keyword density among other factors. Any blog or website that ranks first for a series of related keywords, usually has a higher aggregate web page ranking in comparison to competing sites in the same category.
Please note that search engines don’t assign aggregate scores to a website based on the number of web pages. Smart website owners always improve the quality of their sites’ landing pages, and then submit them to their XML Sitemaps. When Google receives this information, it rewards these websites with enviable page rankings until someone else achieves higher scores.
Let’s assume your website contains 20 web pages. How can you utilize an XML Sitemap to achieve higher page rankings for your targeted keywords? First, determine how many landing pages you need. If you’ve decided on five landing pages, make sure they possess desirable search engine qualities. You could then submit these pages to your XML Sitemap. Google will only rank the submitted web pages, and render the remaining 15 as utility pages.
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XML Sitemaps automatically get rid of fluff in websites
Sometimes, web pages that didn’t make the cut still get indexed by search engines. This happens due to the presence inbound links found in high-ranking web pages on the same site. Search engines consider high page ranking websites as authorities in their particular fields, so it’s easy for them to index and award high ratings to a blog or website, as they have credible backlinks.
Does this mean search engines unfairly favor high-ranking sites? We have to say no, because a website ranked high during the first round is not automatically immune to future indexing. When a search engine comes across web pages that were wrongly indexed, it punishes the website owners by assigning ‘noindex, follow’ meta robots.
To avoid massive loss of web traffic, you can perform a site: search to view all your indexed web pages. It is advisable to do a thorough scan of all the inbound links contained in the indexed web pages, and get rid of any low-ranked ones.
There’s no difference between Noindex meta robots and robots.txt
When it comes to boosting your website’s SEO ranking, never assume that ignorance is bliss. Many website owners continue losing valuable traffic to their product pages in their websites, because of wrongly applying robots.txt instead of Noindex, follow Meta robots. A ‘noindex, follow’ meta robot is suitable when you want to divert a landing page’s link value to the web page containing the backlink. Link value or link juice means the reputation or the credibility assigned to links by search engines.
Google de-indexes blogs and websites by assigning robots.txt. They work by draining away the link juice assigned to a particular site’s backlinks. ‘Noindex, follow’ commands are suitable when doing website renovations because they prevent web traffic loss in the event of the site going offline.
XML Sitemaps display the specific indexed and non-indexed web pages
When you open an XML Sitemap, you’ll come across two columns labeled ‘Submitted’ and ‘Indexed’ respectively. Just as the name suggests, you’ll view the total number of your submitted web pages in the ‘Submitted’ column. Since Google uses a checklist of over 100 items when assigning page rankings, it’s rare to achieve a 100% ranking. Therefore, it is wise returning to the drawing board and implement some improvements after your first indexing.
The only setback of using XML Sitemaps is they only display the numbers of submitted and indexed web pages. However, you view the indexed web pages by grouping them according to specific properties, and then submitting these separate groups to your XML Sitemap.
You don’t have to crawl a website before using an XML Sitemap
Crawling enables search engines to clearly identify and index websites and blogs. Some business owners find XML Sitemaps of little SEO value due to one governing reason - failing to confirm whether there are other similar pre-existing blogs or websites already indexed by major search engines. When Google’s spiders come across a website bearing unusually high resemblance to indexed websites, they trigger the search engine to deploy robots.txt in the new site.
Google and other search engines also look down on imitators. Make sure your web pages are unique and contain high-quality content to earn Google's favor. A simple way of accomplishing this is by analyzing all the websites that appear under search results for your targeted keywords.
XML Sitemap is a simple SEO tool that works best only if you take time to understand its function. Using an XML Sitemap will let Google and other search engines index your recently published articles, audio files, and visuals within minutes. It’s no secret that unique content attracts high web traffic, which often leads to improved sales.
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