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Sitemaps: The Definitive Guide

Introduction:

Implementing sitemaps in your site is a good SEO practice an essential for great optimization. Sitemaps are like a road map for Crawlers as well as for Users by providing a basic understanding of site structure and layout. This lets web crawlers navigate your site efficiently and shows metadata such as dates of recent updates for the engines to use in rankings.

Types of sitemap:

There are basically two types of sitemaps namely HTML and XML sitemaps but if we include and divide this Image-Sitemap, Video-Sitemap, News-Sitemap, Mobile-Sitemap into sections we could provide a better view of website layout for a search engine to crawl efficiently.

HTML-Sitemap:

The main features of HTML-sitemaps are logical groups of the website’s content as well as a clear map of the website with a reasonable hierarchy.HTML-sitemap is intended specifically for the user, as opposed to an XML-sitemap. It is supposed to be a graphical table-of-contents for the website, which will also help search engines crawl the entire website.

HTML sitemap links the resources internally and internal links help in improving keyword rankings; these sitemaps also help linked webpages in their rankings with search engines.

XML-Sitemap:

XML is basically a language that stores information about an object in an organized or pre-defined format. These XML files not only contain the list of the webpages but also information about the webpages like when the webpage was modified, what is the preference of the webpage as compared to other webpages, how often is the webpage modified and much more. There are many online tools available that can help you create sitemaps very easily.

An XML-Sitemap, as opposed to an HTML-sitemap, is a structured index created specifically for search engines, in order to help them find either new, sparsely linked or deeply nested pages.

Image-Sitemap

An image-sitemap is an XML-sitemap created specifically for images and their contents.

Using an image-XML-sitemap, you can add specific information, such as the location (geo_location), to the images on your website and submit them to Google. Adding a separate image-sitemap can be helpful for your image rankings in the Google Image

Video-Sitemap

A separate video-XML-sitemap allows you to enhance the video contents on your website with additional information, like defining a category to which the video belongs to. This helps videos rank better in Google Video Search.

Google also recommends adding the specific schema.org markup to your video content, this will help to develop the Video Rich Snippet Generator for schema.org Markup.

News-Sitemap:

By using a separate news-XML-sitemap, you can complement your own news content – which you have optimized specifically for Google-News – with publication-specific information, like the release date. Adding a news-sitemap can positively influence your rankings within Google News.

Mobile-Sitemap:

If a website delivers mobile content specifically for “feature-phones”, you should add a mobile XML-sitemap. This does not concern smartphones, as they have a full-fledged browser available.

Feature-phones are phones that do not have a full-fledged browser and use WAP/WML, etc.

Mobile-XML-sitemap: They are used only by search engines and point to URLs specifically developed for feature-phones

Sitemaps are one way to enhance the ranking of your website and also keep your website a bit organized so that it is easier for the search engines to index your website.

The maximum number of URLs which can be added to a single sitemap cannot be more than 50,000. The maximum file size of the sitemap should not be more than 50 MB. Before submitting a sitemap, you should check it using the sitemap validation tools available online. This makes sure that the sitemap is added is valid and error-free.

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