Do I Need an XML Sitemap?

Accurate internal linking is critical to ensuring that Google can index and rank your site. Unfortunately, too many sites neglect proper internal linking. An XML sitemap may help. What are these tools? Do you genuinely need an XML sitemap?

What Is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is precisely what it sounds like – a map of every page on your website created in the programming language XML (as opposed to something else, like HTML). This map lists all the essential pages of your website so that Google can find them and analyze your site’s architecture. You definitely want Google to crawl all of your site’s important pages to enhance discoverability.

Do You Need an XML Sitemap?

While it’s critical that Google can find, crawl, and understand all the important pages on your website. Does that mean your site needs one?

According to Google, an XML sitemap is important for the following:

  • Massive websites with many important pages
  • Websites that have very large archives
  • Websites featuring lots of rich media/multimedia content
  • New sites without many external links pointing to them

Ultimately, an XML sitemap can benefit any website, regardless of size, multimedia content, or the number of inbound links. Why? It’s all about internal linking. Google says that proper internal linking is essential, but it can be challenging to ensure that happens organically within the text content of your site. An XML sitemap provides Google with an accurate map of all your pages, all linked hierarchically so that spiders can understand the structure and importance of each page.

Which Pages Are “Important”?

Because an XML sitemap should only feature your most important pages, it’s helpful to define what “important” means. Think about it this way: do you want people to land on a particular page of your website? If you don’t, it should probably be excluded from the sitemap.

For example, let’s say you have a newsletter. When people sign up, they’re taken to a ‘thank you’ page. You don’t want people landing on this page without first signing up, so it should be excluded from your sitemap (and probably would benefit from a no-index tag, too.

Not sure if your site needs an XML sitemap? On the fence about which pages are the most important? Working with an experienced SEO partner can help ensure your sitemap is as accurate as possible to boost findability. If you should have any questions, please contact Search SEO Chicago today!

Published by
Andrew Sansardo

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