Presence of a sitemap will help index your web pages faster, and rank them better. With a sitemap, you needn’t submit each of your individual pages to search engines separately. In this article we will see the importance of sitemaps, and how you can add a sitemap to a blog.
Normally, Google bots crawl and index all pages on a website automatically. However, these bots can always miss some pages. The missed pages are usually standalone, without incoming links from other pages. You can find out which of your pages are actually indexed by Google with this search query: “site:the URL” (please notice there is no space next to the colon). This query will list all the pages indexed within the URL.
Importance of Sitemaps
New blogs may not get any considerable increase in traffic, even if their posts are regular. The cause may be that only the home page of the blog is indexed, and individual pages just escaped the index. Due to this, these blogs won’t get any traffic these individual pages can bring.
Dynamically updated websites should definitely have a sitemap. Search bots access newer pages for indexing through links from the already existing pages, while the indexing is happening. If any of your internal pages is standalone, it may not get indexed at all. A sitemap can help get these standalone pages indexed.
Effect on Traffic and Search Engine Optimization
Lack of sitemap will not cause your site to rank lower for its optimized keywords. Without a sitemap, all indexed pages within your site will rank just as it would with a sitemap.
However, sitemap will greatly increase traffic of a site, merely due to the fact that the newer pages will be indexed far faster and show up in search queries. Also, any unindexed pages within the site will be indexed by search engines, driving traffic to those pages. The effect will be a big boom in traffic.
A blogger adds content to his site to get a steady traffic growth. Hard working bloggers may add hundreds of posts to their blogs in a year. If a hundred of these pages are not indexed by search engines, imagine the loss of traffic. He can get all those pages to the search index, by adding a sitemap.
Adding a Sitemap to Blogs
You can create a sitemap with an online sitemap builder and add it to your blog. These sitemap builders crawl a website through internal links and enlist all internal pages into an XML file.
Besides XML, you can also use HTML sitemaps, which was the traditional sitemap format. The advantage of HTML is that, you can use it with both search bots and human visitors, while XML sitemaps contain pure XML source code, which a human being may not understand. HTML sitemap is nothing but a directory page within your website, which links to all the internal pages arranged by categories.
Once the sitemap is ready, upload it to your web host and link to it from your Google Webmaster Tools interface.
If you don’t already have an account on Google Webmaster Tools, sign up and verify your blog. It provides two means for verification: Meta tag authentication and HTML file upload. Verified webmasters can add sitemap for their blogs by following the instructions given.
You can build sitemaps online with one of these websites:
Offline Sitemap Builders
If you are using an offline sitemap builder, you shouldn’t run it when you are logged into the site. Offline sitemap builders, run from your own system, can get access to your blog hosting account if you run it when you are logged in. It means, the comment deletion and post deletion links will be accessible to the program, which will index them. This will cause your important posts and comments getting deleted automatically.
Adding Sitemap to Blogger Blogs
Within Blogger blogs, you cannot upload an XML sitemap. There is no file upload feature within Blogger, unless you use self-hosted blogs. There is a good alternative to this for Blogger platform. You can use your blog’s RSS or Atom feed as sitemap. Follow these guidelines to add the feed sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.
1. Access Google Webmaster Tools with your Google account.
2. Within your website profile, click Add below Sitemap.
3. Choose the sitemap type as General Web Sitemap.
4. In the text field, complete the blog feed URL. For this, you only need to add “feeds/posts/default”.
5. If you are using feed syndication services like FeedBurner and have set it as the default feed in the blog’s feed setting, then use “feed/posts/default?rss” instead of “feeds/posts/default”.
The sitemap, once added, needs to be approved by Google before it will have an effect. Once approved, Google will periodically access the sitemap to index any unindexed pages within the site. This way, all newer pages are guaranteed to be in the Google index.
Importance of the sitemap in traffic of a website shouldn’t be underestimated. Professional websites even provide a link to their sitemap on the home page. It can be also a great alternative for users to navigate the site.