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What Is a Sitemap?

To put it simply, a sitemap is just what it sounds like—a map of your website. It is a file that lists every page on your site, and shows how these pages connect to each other. An “XML sitemap” is a particular type of map structure that lets search engine ‘bots quickly access every page and scan all of your website content. Your sitemap literally maps out your website’s structure and shows the search ‘bot how your webpages link together. From the sitemap, the search ‘bot can follow every link, crawl through each page of your website, and determine its structure and content by reading the HTML code that created the page.

The reason the search ‘bots do this is to “index”—or to store in a database for later retrieval—notes about the content of your site. Later, when a user enters a query into the search interface, the search engine consults the index to find websites whose content matches the user’s search keywords. Using a proprietary algorithm (or formula), the search engine then decides which websites are most likely to satisfy the user’s needs, and lists them in order from most likely to least likely.

This process sounds complicated. In fact, it is quite complicated, and it takes considerable skill to create an effective sitemap of your website. However, by submitting your sitemap for search, you can insure that Google, Yahoo, Bing, and other search engines are aware of all the information your website has to offer.

Why Build a Sitemap?

When a search engine ‘bot visits your website, it arrives with a “crawl budget,” or the amount of time and/or number of pages the search engine has allocated to spend indexing the site. The crawl budget is closely proportional to the Page Rank of your site. In other words, if your site is very large, contains great information, gets large amounts of traffic, and has many inbound links pointing to it, your crawl budget will be considerably larger than if you have a 5-page site that nobody has heard of.

In either case, if a crawler uses up its budget before indexing your entire site, much of your content remains effectively invisible to Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Thus, even if 10,000 people a day search for terms contained on your site, you will miss out on that traffic because those pages have not yet been indexed properly.

A good sitemap makes it much more likely that the web crawlers can speed through your site and index every page, so you can receive all the traffic your site deserves.

What Now?

For a thorough website analysis, fill out the form on this page. This analysis determines what portion of your website Google, Bing, and Yahoo have already indexed. While you look over the report, one of our marketing specialists will review your report, as well. We will then get in touch to learn more about your business, to find out what keywords you want to rank for, and to learn more about your website.

Finally, we will move forward and start building a sitemap out of content that works best for you and your SEO strategy.

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