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Create and Upload an XML Sitemap - Patrick Harris
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Create and Upload an XML Sitemap

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What is an XML Sitemap

 

 

An XML sitemap is simply a list of URLs. It functions as a table of contents for your website.

 

An XML sitemap tells search engines how a website is structured and makes it easy for them to crawl and index the website content.

 

“XML” stands for “Extensible Markup Language” and was designed to store and transport data over the web. It’s easy to read for humans as well as machines.

 

An entry for an XML sitemap looks like this:

<url>

    <loc>http://pat.world/robots-txt-vs-meta-robots/</loc>

    <lastmod>2014-10-01</lastmod>

    <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

    <priority>0.8</priority>

  </url>

 

Where the primary entry is the URL (location) of the web page you wish the crawler to check out, and the other entries provide information about that page:

 

  1. The last time this URL was modified.
  2. The frequency with which it’s changed
  3. The priority the page carries when weighed against other pages on the website

 

Why is an XML Sitemap Important for SEO

 

Different search engines have different crawlers.

 

Crawlers are programs that index and organize content online. For example, Google’s famous crawler, Googlebot, indexes and organizes information on the web so it can be retrieved later when relevant terms are searched.

 

A sitemap is an easy and fast way to get indexed by search engine crawlers. When the crawler comes by your domain, they check out your sitemap in the same way a reader would glance at a table of contents. The crawler stops by www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml to see what your entire website is about, how the content is updated and organized, and where its located.

 

 

 

Google Crawler stops at XML sitemap

 

XML sitemaps exists to:

 

  • Tell search engines what to crawl and index on your website
  • Tell search engines what kind of information is on your website
  • Tell search engines when your content was last updated
  • Allow search engines to crawl your site more efficiently and utilize less bandwidth (their computing resources)
  • Help search engines crawl a website that may have poor internal linking structure

 

 

Create an XML Sitemap

 

The easiest way to create an XML sitemap is with Screaming Frog. If you don’t have Screaming Frog, you can check their site out here or give it a download here.

 

Screaming Frog is a powerful piece of SEO software. It crawls a domain you pass in, and provides a wealth of information about the domain.

The basic version is free. The full version (with license purchase) costs around $180 USD or  €170 euro.

 

The basic version allows for the creation of sitemaps, so either way, we’re good to go.

 

Once downloaded, select Sitemaps> Create Sitemap across the top menu bar

 

 

 

 

A screen will come up that will allow you to configure the sitemap settings.

 

Here’s a description of the 4 primary settings:

 

  • Include Noindex Pages — Noindex pages are those that contain HTML code in the header that tells the search engines not to include the page in the search results.
    • Usually, there’s a reason websites contain nofollow
      links. Default to leaving this unchecked
  • Include Canonicalised — This means there may be more than one URL pointing to the same page of content.
    • If you “include canonicalized,” you are telling the crawl tool to include variations of the URLs that point to the same page. Default to leaving this unchecked.
  • Include Paginated URLs — A paginated URL is one that includes rel= attributes to navigate through content on a website.
    • I would default to leaving this unchecked.
  • PDFs — You can choose whether or not you want PDFs included in your XML sitemap.
    • Google indexes all sorts of file types, including pdfs
      . This is up to you. If your website contains relevant PDF’s then go ahead and include them in the sitemap.

 

 

 

Navigate over to the “images” tab.

 

Your images should be relevant to the content of the web pages they are housed on. They should also contain relevant alternative text. If you’re confident your pictures contribute positively to your website’s rankings, add them to the sitemap.

 

 

 

Now click “next” and save your sitemap to your computer.

 

 

 

Upload the XML Sitemap to Your Website’s Root Directory

 

 

Using an FTP client or Cpanel, navigate to your website’s root directory.

 

 

 

Once there, click “upload,” and select the sitemap you previously created

 

 

 

Boom. To confirm that it was uploaded successfully navigate to

 

http://www.yoursite.com/sitemapfilename.xml

 

 

Tell Google Where Your Sitemap Can Be Found

 

 

Now that our sitemap is located in the correct place, we need to tell Google where to find it.

 

 

  1. Navigate to https://www.google.com/webmasters
  2. In the menu on the left side, click Crawl > Sitemaps
  3. Click “ADD/TEST sitemap”
  4. Add the filename of your sitemap. Make sure it ends in the “.xml “ file extension
  5. Test and Submit

 

 

Upload a sitemap to Google Search Console

All done!

 

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