By Sotheary Chan
April 09, 2024

What is a sitemap?

Your website is created, and now you want people to find your page quickly. When registering on Google Search Console, it prompts you to submit your sitemaps. Is this really necessary? What are they for?

What is a sitemap?

It is a map of a website or a plan of a website in XML format listing the site's URLs and the metadata of each URL. It informs search engines like Google about what they should index, how to do it, and which web pages to explore. An XML file can contain a maximum of 50,000 URLs or 50 MB. If your file exceeds either of these criteria, you should split it into two.
How do you differentiate between an HTML page and an XML page? An HTML page contains all the pages of your website and is visible to users, whereas a sitemap is a file containing all the URLs with a description (metadata) of each page in coding.

Sitemap: how does it work?

Web crawlers like Googlebot extract all the URLs from the sitemap and gather information about the URLs of a single host through associated metadata (information about your web page like the last change date on the web page and how frequently the page has been viewed compared to other URLs on your site) to intelligently explore the host site on search engines.
Web crawlers do not automatically find or follow the protocol of your sitemap. It takes some time for URLs to be indexed. XML files are used on search engines like Google, Yahoo, Ask, and Bing.
To give you a visual idea, here is an example of a site map. Just so you know, it is not necessary for you to create the sitemaps yourself. Software is designed to generate them automatically from a URL. However, it is crucial to understand the information.

Definitions of XML tags

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Do I need a sitemap?

So, the big question! It would be relevant to have one if you have a website with hundreds of web pages. As mentioned, one of the purposes of the sitemap is to structure your website and correctly link all the pages. This way, if one of your pages is not linked, you can make the necessary corrections. Ultimately, your website will have better structure and visibility due to Googlebot's page indexing.
Furthermore, if your website contains images, news, and videos, it is essential to have one. Regarding a small website with fewer than a hundred URLs, you can focus on web referencing to change the positioning of your web page if that's what you desire.
If your site is new and difficult to find on Google search, you can create a sitemap for Googlebot to index it to simplify the search. For example, creating a new page or an international site with thousands of URLs.
In any case, remember that you will not be penalized for creating or not creating a sitemap.

The sitemap and web referencing

A distinction must be made between the sitemap and web referencing (SEO). The sitemap lists the pages located within an HTML page. However, it does not perform web referencing. It informs Googlebot to capture relevant site information for indexing on search engines. In Google Search Console, sitemaps help track your page's positioning through statistics or the number of clicks.
You can use other means like SEO and SEM keywords for positioning your page. The sitemap serves as an entry point to simplify finding your page on the web for tracking on Google Search Console or for web referencing.
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About the author

Sotheary Chan

Sotheary Chan

Blogger at helloDarwin

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