Sitemaps are one of the most critical components of search engine optimization. It ensures that every page of your website is indexed properly. However, many website owners often neglect this part, thinking that it’s just a small task that they can live without doing. So if you’re now planning to create your website’s sitemap, you should know the following points.
XML isn’t the only sitemap format
While XML is the most common sitemap format, there are also the likes of Google News Sitemap, which is exclusive for those in the news industry.
Aside from that, you can explore the RSS feed widely used for websites and blogs with regular content. On the other hand, the mRSS feed is reserved for websites with large and regularly updated video content. Lastly, there’s an alternate language sitemap, also XML, if your website is written in various languages aside from English.
You’re not supposed to add all URLs
As much as sitemaps are the lists of URLs within a website, not everything should be added to it. Always exclude duplicate and canonical pages, no index pages, server error pages, and redirection pages, among others. Overall, if you don’t want search engines to detect a specific page, you shouldn’t add it to your sitemap. This is an important part of those who have duplicate content.
Sitemaps don’t always apply for all websites
Yes, not all websites require a sitemap. Usually, large websites with rich media content require a sitemap. This is also the case with sites that still have few external links and has a large archived content.
But if your website is very small or even if it has just one page, you may not need one at all for Google to index it correctly. On top of this, you might not need a sitemap if you use a website builder like Wix, as these sites tend to create them for you.
You should keep your sitemap private
Linking your sitemap to the robot.txt file might sound like a great move, but think twice before doing so. The robot.txt file is a public file and anyone can easily access it. If they do, they can easily know their way around your website.
For sites with massive organic search traffic, the privacy of the sitemap is golden. One way to make your sitemap private is by changing its URL name. From the typical yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml, you can change it to yourdomain.com/this-is-a-private-sitemap.xml.After changing the name, always submit to the Google Search Console so your pages will be indexed.
Know the limits
Sitemaps have limits too. For example, your sitemap shouldn’t have more than 50,000 URLs at a time and the file shouldn’t be bigger than 50 MB. case you exceeded the file size, you’re allowed to split your sitemap into two separate files. Just take note that you can only have up to 50,000 sitemaps in each sitemap index. Also, you can only create and upload up to 500 sitemaps on your Google Search Console. Overall, this is already a lavish allowance for almost all websites.