What is a sitemap and why is it important?

What is a sitemap and why is it important?

Sitemaps are an essential part of a site. Sitemaps are not only a map of your website but also the communication tool between the website and search engines. A SiteMap is a document which lists all the pages of a website. And also sitemap is a model of a website’s content designed for the purpose of helping both users and search engines to navigate the website. A sitemap is a hierarchical list of pages with the links organized by the topic, an organization chart, or an XML document which gives guidance to the search engine crawl bots. The sitemap is necessary for your website visitors. Even if you are having numerous pages or very little pages in your website, it will be a difficult task to navigate for a simple web surfer. To make your website visitors easy to use your website, they must be able to easily find whatever they require for or at least be able to easily navigate to your website. With the help of a sitemap, the website visitors will be able to reach each and every page of your website.

What is the purpose of using the sitemaps?

Making use of a sitemap offers several advantages. The sitemap is not only easy to navigate, but also provides enough visibility to the search engines. Sitemaps are the process of combining the search engines with any of the changes made to the website quickly once it has taken place. Search engines will not visit your account for the changes on the pages, but it will surely change the edits which have been made in the sitemap. And moreover, if there is a sitemap link to a website, and submitted to the search engines, webmasters can depend on the external links for which the search engines will bring visitors to your site. Sitemaps are also helpful for fixing the poor internal links. Eg: If there is a broken link which cannot be accessed then it must be recorded that it is not a smart choice to depend on a sitemap rather than resolving the issues.


Importance of using a Sitemap:

If your website is new, or recently updated the web pages then sitemap plays a very important role. And moreover you can run your website without a sitemap, but sitemaps are the standard way of submitting the website to the search engines.  And also it is sure that spiders will continue to index the Web and sitemaps is not going to make any standard crawling procedures out of date, it is very logical that the necessity of a sitemap will continue to increase.


1) Provides the search engines page priority and thus crawl priority. Will be able to add a tag on the XML sitemap indicating which pages are necessary. Thus, Bots will initially focus on those priority pages.


2) Provides the data back from the Google Webmaster tool and can access the google bot activity for example.


3) The sitemap lists all the URLs from your website. And this consists of the pages which are difficult to be recognized by the search engines.


4) Provides the temporary data. And also can add two other optional tags which will transfer additional information to the search engines in helping them to crawl your site. The “lastmod’ indicates the search engine when the page was last modified. And the “changefreq” indicates how often the page is likely to become.

Types of SiteMaps:

SiteMaps are of two types, one will be designed for the website visitors and another is especially for search engines like the XML (eXtensible Markup Language) Sitemap.


The sitemap designed for the website visitors lists and links to each and every page of a website, just like an index or “Table of Contents”. Mostly it will display the pages hierarchically, by listing them on a category and location basis of the website. This type of sitemap will be helpful for the users to find the content the content faster, and also helps the search engine bots crawl the website more thoroughly.


The XML Sitemap is not for website visitors and also it will not be a viewable page of the site (and moreover it is nothing but strings of code). XML Sitemap is written especially for search engines for communicating directly with them about how many pages of the website are currently online, functioning, and ready to be crawled and indexed. The XML Sitemap is helpful if your website has some pages which cannot be navigated, or if in case your website consists of the content which the search engines cannot crawl.

Advantages of SiteMap:

The advantage of sitemaps is they make simple for search engines to identify and index all the pages of a website. Eg: If you are using the content management system like WordPress then users can install a plugin which will be creating the sitemaps for you. There are various plugins designated for XML sitemaps which are easy and free of cost to install. After installing and activating the plugin it will start doing the job. And moreover, the manual submission of the sites to the search engines is not necessary as the web pages will be re-indexed within the days.


The sitemap of your website is especially for the search engines. And the search engines will be able to completely index the entire site easily through the sitemap. Search engines have the power to give a good traffic for your website, which will increase your site visitors and make the site well popular. If a search engine finds every page on your site and indexes it, then the site can appear in the search engine results pages. If a user types the certain keyword phrase and the search engine will consider one of your pages is relevant to that keyword phrase, then the search engine will display your page in the ranking.


Features of a SiteMap:

1) If in case of incorrect URL or wrong anchor text, the site visitor will end up in landing on a webpage that is never there on the website. Now if the users come to knows the title of the post or content that they are searching and users will be able to get it from the sitemap.

2) The sitemap is beneficial for the users to optimize the site and adding the sitemap is one of the basic steps of SEO and website improvement.

3) The sitemap will also provide the site visitors, the structure of your website by enhancing the theme and the essential content of your website.

4) Sitemaps are also considered as the navigation map for your website visitors. They can visit your sitemap page whenever required and navigate to whatever page they require.

Some of the Common FAQ’s of Sitemap:

1) I am having multiple URLs which points to the same content, will I be able to use the Sitemap to show my preferred URL for that particular content?

Ans) Yes, but cannot be assured that the algorithms will display the appropriate URL in the search results. It will be still helpful for you to show the preference by adding that URL in the Sitemap. Google will take this into consideration, along with the other signals, while deciding which URL to be displayed in the search results.


2) What is the procedure for pre-compiling the sitemap and XSP’s?

Ans) You need to set the auto-reload to false in the sitemap.xmap as mentioned below:
<parameter name=”auto-reload” value=”false”/>
Use “-Dbuild.precompile=true” in the build command line while building the WAR file.


3) If my website consists of multiple sections like the blog, photo gallery, and forum do I need to submit one Sitemap or multiple Sitemaps for my website?

Ans) You can submit as many sitemaps as you require up to the given limits. And can organize them in whichever method you find simple to manage. If you are going to create multiple Sitemaps, then can use the Sitemap Index file to list them all.


4) Is it possible to create the content which is not directly visible to everyone?

Ans) Add the content in any kind of internal pipeline.

<map:pipeline internal-only=”true”>
  <map:match pattern=”int”>
    <map:generate src=”docs/description.xml”/>
    <map:serialize type=”xml”/>
  <map:match pattern=”desc.html”>
    <map:generate src=”cocoon:/int”/>
    <map:transform src=”stylesheets/description2html.xsl”/>
    <map:serialize type=”html”/>

5) If I cannot automatically crawl and index, what will a Sitemap do?

Ans) Sitemaps provides the data to Google for understanding better about the website. This will make sure to know about all your URLs. Also, if in case you submit the Sitemap through the Webmaster Tools, Google will show the statistics like how many of your Sitemap’s URLs are being indexed.


SiteMaps are particularly necessary when you start a new website. Search engines take their own time and sometimes even longer before visiting your website, by permitting crawling alone in its entirety. If search engines are not able to crawl your site, then your website will not be able to index the URLs. It is always recommended to create a sitemap for your website.