How to Optimize XML Sitemap for Maximum SEO?Utpal
How to Optimize XML Sitemap for Maximum SEO?
When optimizing your website for SEO purposes, your only goal is to provide Google the right signals so that it can index your website better. Signals that can lead to faster indexing and higher rankings is a well-optimized XML sitemap.
How to create an XML Sitemap?
There are many ways for creating an XML sitemap. Many platforms have this functionality built-in but even if they don’t, it’s easy to create one and take advantage of the benefits.
To check if your website has a sitemap you can open a new browser window and navigate to http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
A sitemap is not a static file but it needs to be updated automatically when your website is updated with a new page or when changes are made to existing pages. You should always look for automated ways to create a sitemap.
What should we include in our XML sitemap for maximum SEO?
It’s important to perceive what you should include in your XML sitemap. The plugins will by default include all your website pages, posts, tags, archives, media, etc. but this is not what we want.
The most important sitemap optimization guidelines are:
Include the pages (and posts as well), that are important for your website in your sitemap. These pages have high-quality content and are capable of bringing organic traffic to your website.
Exclude pages that have matching content. For WordPress websites, good candidates are author pages, tag pages, and archive pages. Exclude pages with ‘thin content’.
Creating an XML Sitemap with Yoast SEO Plugin
The best feature of Yoast SEO is Sitemap functionality. If you have the plugin installed and it is activated, the first thing to do is ‘Enable the XML Sitemap functionality’ by going to Yoast SEO – > GENERAL – > FEATURES -> XML SITEMAPS.
You need to decide if this is something you want to include in your sitemap, for each type of content.
You need to decide if there is something you want to add in your sitemap for each of the content types. If you set “Show posts in search results?” to YES, then that particular content type will be included in your sitemap, if you choose NO, it will not be included.
In most situations, you only need to include your posts, pages, and products (in the case of e-commerce websites) and exclude everything else.
Next, you need to select TAXONOMIES and do the same. More firmly, you need to select which taxonomies you want to include in your sitemap.
In a normal cases, you should only include your post and product categories and separate anything else like post tags or pages that don’t have unique content of their own.
The final step is to go to ARCHIVES and disable Author and Date Archives.
Where is my XML Sitemap?
To view your sitemap, click SEE THE XML SITEMAP from GENERAL / FEATURES (first screenshot above), or open a new browser window and navigate to https://yourwebsite.com/sitemap_index.xml
You will also see that it contains info for images, so you don’t need to create a different sitemap to submit your images to Google.
How to submit your XML sitemap to Google?
The two ways to ensure Google will pick up your sitemap is: To add it to the robots.txt and the second way is to submit your sitemap in Google Search Console.
For best results, you can use both of the methods.
Add your sitemap in robots.txt
Edit your robots.txt file, and add a line at the end to include your sitemap.
To submit your sitemap on Google Search Console:
First of all login to Google search console. Click SITEMAPS under INDEX.
Then type your sitemap filename (i.e. sitemap_index.xml) and click the SUBMIT button.
Once you are done with this, you will see that the sitemap is Pending.
Check again in a few days to see how many pages have been submitted in your sitemap and how many are indexed and you can also see the details in the COVERAGE report (under Index).