Sitemap is an XML file that contains the URLs of active pages on a site. It is an invitation for search bots to index the webpages that are available for crawling. Sitemaps also specify cues about each URL’s latest update, its update frequency and its significance compared to other URLs of the site. Basically, sitemaps assist search bots in their journey on a website, and help them mark the most desirable destinations in terms of their search relevancy. It is an effective tool that facilitates search engines in indexing all the important pages.
Here are some guidelines you can use to make you website’s pages easily accessible to search engines:
1. You can use a Robots.txt file to restrict the search bot from indexing some of the publically viewable parts of the website. Include the URL for sitemap in robots.txt, so that the search bot knows exactly which sitemap should be indexed and where it is located.
2. Sitemap indexing protocol is the same for all major search engines. So by having a fully updated, functional and index-able sitemap, you are labeling your website “available” to be indexed by all major search engines.
3. While sitemaps help search bots to discover your webpages, they do not ensure their being included in search results i.e. they do not give you a higher search engine ranking. But if your search page content is SEO compliant, sitemap will act as an added feature, making it available to spiders for indexing. So sitemaps boost your SEO campaign and make bots index your site smartly.
4. A sound site architecture is presented to search bots via an updated sitemap. So sitemaps support site architecture by exposing all parts of your website to search engines.
In today’s competitive world of SEO, where every effort is worth the time and resources invested, sitemaps are the most effective way of letting the search engines drive through your site and making you pages more visible online.