Sitemaps are not only important for Google but they are important for your visitors. Have you ever gone to a website and can’t find the page you were looking for? This is when a sitemap proves useful. The user can click on the sitemap and find a list of all the pages in your site and click on the page they need.
A link to the Sitemap is usually found in the footer of a website. All important pages should be in the footer, for easy access.
What is a Sitemap?
In technical terms a Sitemap is a link map of all the pages in your site. In layman’s terms, a Sitemap is a page that lists all your pages of your website, that the user can click on to go to that page. A Sitemap helps make your website more user-friendly, which is what Google and other search engines look for.
Creating a sitemap for your visitors
The purpose of a Sitemap is primarily for your visitors. So if they cannot find a page via your main navigation menu, they can go to the sitemap and find the page they are looking for.
Creating a sitemap for the search engines
A Sitemap helps the search engines find pages in your site too, and may help index these pages. The search engines take into consideration how user-friendly your site is, hence why including a sitemap for your users is crucial.
Learn how to create a Sitemap
At Let’s Build a Website, we can teach you how to create a Sitemap in our SEO consulting course. If you are interested in SEO or creating a Sitemap for your website. Click on the link to learn more about our SEO Training & Consulting.
Here are some quick and easy steps to create an XML Sitemap
Remember an XML sitemap is for the search engines.
- Use these steps if you have a HTML website.
- Go to a FREE online Sitemap creator – for e.g. https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
- Create and download the Sitemap and add it to your hosting server. See below for more info.
- Then, notify Google and Bing about the new Sitemap.
Where do I add my sitemap?
If you have created your Sitemap manually, then you will have to:
- Upload the Sitemap file to your server into the root folder of your site.
- You can do this via CPanel or File Manager.
- Check that sitemap is working by typing – www.yourdomainname.com/sitemap.xml into the browser.
- This should display your sitemap.
- Then add the Sitemap to your Google Console & Bing.
Add to the footer of your website
Once you have created the sitemap, you should add a link to the footer area of your website. The is the most obvious place for the user to look for a it.
All important pages like Sitemap, privacy, contact, terms, and conditions should always be included in your footer.
To notify Google
- Create an account with Google Search Console
- Go to Sitemaps
- Click >Add a new sitemap
- Add the URL for eg. https://yourwebsite.com/sitemap_xml
- Click Submit Sitemap – see image below
To notify Bing
- Create a Bing Webmaster account
- Go to the Dashboard
- Go to > Configure my site > Sitemaps
- Then > Add your sitemap
Google’s Matt Cutt’s opinion on Sitemaps
Creating a User-friendly Sitemap
Having an XML Sitemap is great for the search engines but it’s not very user-friendly. So I would create a user-friendly version on your Sitemap as well for your visitors.
You can manually create a user-friendly Sitemap if you don’t have a lot of pages. Just type the name of each page – in a new page called “Sitemap”. And link each page to itself. Then add a link to this Sitemap in the footer area of your site.
Otherwise, you could search for a free online tool to help you create an HTML Sitemap for your visitors.
Here are a few:
HTML and XML Sitemap generators
If you have a WordPress website, then creating a user-friendly or XML Sitemap is easy. Just install a plugin. There are a few plugins that can do the trick.
Simple Sitemap Plugin
This plugin creates a responsive HTML Sitemap for the user. Just install and add the shortcode to the page you want to load the sitemap in. Click here to view on wordpress.org.
This plugin creates an XML Sitemap, that you can submit to Google and Bing. Click here to view on WordPress.org
To sum up – why you should have a Sitemap on your website
Every website should have both an XML and a user-friendly Sitemap. XML for Google, Bing and other Search Engines, and a plain text or HTML Sitemap for the user.
It’s not hard to do this just follow my tips from above.
Good luck and CONTACT US if you need any help with creating a Sitemap for your website.
Web Designer/Trainer – Adv Dip, Dip, TAE
Jodi is a qualified WordPress Trainer and Designer with an Advanced Diploma in Digital Media (2D And 3D Animation, Web Development) and a Diploma in Web Development. She has been a Website Trainer at the Northern Beaches Community College since 2008 and a WordPress Tutor for NSW TAFE since 2016.
Jodi has developed several web design courses including, a WordPress Beginners Course and Build your own WordPress Website for small businesses. These courses will teach you how to update and manage your website ongoing. Giving website owners more control over their website, thus helping to keep costs down.
View Jodi’s credentials here.