What is sitemap

by: Dale Roxas
| November 21, 2021
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Your sitemap is simply translated from the outline you generate for your website. Before you develop a website, you can use a sitemap to envision its structure, or information architecture. Convert each main idea and subcategory in your outline into a graphic of boxes connected by lines and arrows to show how the pages are interconnected to create a sitemap.

What is sitemap?

A sitemap is a file that lists the pages, videos, and other files on your website, as well as their relationships. This file is read by search engines like Google in order to crawl your site more efficiently. A sitemap informs Google about which pages and files on your site are important to you, as well as providing information about them. When the page was last changed, for example, and whether there are any different language versions of the page.

Why is sitemap important?

A sitemap, as the name implies, is a map of the website; that is, it shows the structure of the site, the parts within it, the links between them, and so on, all on one page. 

Sitemaps make it easier to navigate a website, and keeping your sitemap up to date is useful to both you and search engines.

Sitemaps are an important part of a website’s search engine communication. The robots (.txt) file instructs search engines which parts of the website they shouldn’t index, and the web sitemap tells them where you want them to go.

Follow these simple steps to turn your outline into a sitemap:

  • Begin with a large sheet of paper.

You may swiftly draw out ideas on paper, and there is plenty of room for design. Work in landscape orientation on a huge piece of paper. (You’ll discover that a lot of horizontal space is required.) You can re-create the map on the computer after working out the details on paper to make a good, clean copy that you can share to both the client and the team.

  • For each web page, draw a box.

Draw a box to represent each web page of the site, starting with the home page. Place the box for the home page at the top of the paper. Then draw a box for each of your primary, secondary, and tertiary navigation group titles in a new row below.


  • Make a list of subcategories.

Draw a series of boxes for each page within the main parts in the third row. You might want to stack these pages vertically beneath their respective main concept boxes to save space.

  • Sections and subsections should be numbered.

A crucial step is to number each segment so you can quickly refer to it in the future and line it up with the official page index you generate.

TIP: Before your site goes live, a decent sitemap can predict usability issues. If your map contains too many key navigation categories, each of which is lacking in content, you will end up with a site that overwhelms the visitor with options and clutters the screen without delivering much depth of material. In contrast, if your sitemap only has a few key categories, each with a lot of content, you’ll end up with a site that takes forever to traverse, forcing users to click too many times to get to the information they need.

Simply follow these five simple steps to establish a sitemap if you want your website to be indexed quickly by search engines.

Step 1: Examine the layout of your pages.

The first step is to examine the existing material on your website and determine how it is organized.

Examine a sitemap template and consider how your pages would appear on the table.

It all begins with the home page. Then you must consider where your homepage hyperlinks. Based on your website’s menu options, you’ve probably already found this out.

According to Search Engine Journal, you should aim for a shallow depth sitemap, which means it takes only three clicks to access to any page on your website. That’s a lot better in terms of SEO.

As a result, you’ll need to organize your pages into a hierarchy based on their relevance and how you want them to be indexed. Create a logical hierarchy for your content by dividing it into tiers.

The most significant page is About Us, which is why it’s in the top-level menu. Because it wouldn’t make sense to prioritize the management page alongside Products, Pricing, and Blogs, it’s categorized as third-level content.


Step 2: Code your URLs

It’s time to code those URLs now that you’ve defined the relevance of each page and matched that importance in your site structure.

This will be a snap for you if you have any HTML code knowledge. As I previously stated, the “ML” in XML refers to markup language, which is the same as HTML.

Even if you’ve never done anything like this before, it’s not difficult to figure out. Begin by downloading a text editor that allows you to build an XML file.

Take your time and make sure you understand everything. When it comes to inserting this code, the text editor makes your life lot easier, but it still demands you to be smart.


Step 3: Check the code for errors.

Human mistake is always a possibility when coding by hand. However, any coding errors in your sitemap will prevent it from working properly.

Fortunately, there are tools available to assist you in validating your code and ensuring proper syntax. There is software accessible on the internet to assist you with this. You can find something by doing a fast Google search for sitemap validation.


Step 4: Place your sitemap and robots.txt files in the root directory.

Locate your website’s root folder and upload the sitemap file there.

By doing so, the page will be added to your site as well. This isn’t a problem in the least. In reality, this can be found on a variety of websites. Simply type in a website’s URL and add “/sitemap/” to the end to see what results.

If you ask everyone, they won’t tell you to include your sitemaps in the robots.txt file. So I’ll leave it up to you to decide.

With that said, I am a firm believer in adopting great websites and businesses’ best practices. If a company as large as Apple employs it, it can’t be a bad idea for you to consider.


Step 5: Submission of your sitemap

It’s time to submit your sitemap to search engines now that it’s been built and included to your site files.

To do this, you’ll need to use Google Search Console. This may already be in place for some of you. If you haven’t already, you can get started right away.

Navigate to Crawl > Sitemaps from the search panel dashboard.

Then, in the top right corner of the screen, select Add/Test Sitemap.

This is an opportunity for you to double-check your sitemap for any problems before proceeding. Obviously, you’ll want to correct any errors you find. Once your sitemap is error-free, click submit and you’re done. Everything else will be handled by Google from here. Crawlers will now have an easier time indexing your site, which will improve your SEO ranking.


Create a sitemap for your website if you’re ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level.

There’s no cause to be afraid of it any more. As you can see from this instruction, creating a sitemap is simple and only takes five steps.