A Sitemap is a list of the website’s pages and the interrelationships between them. It can be visually represented as a hierarchical diagram or as an XML file, which helps Google, Bing and other search engines see the structure of a website.
A Visual Sitemap is a hierarchical diagram which allows people to understand the website structure, interrelationships between the pages (sections) and the navigation mechanism. It is often used as a starting point in website development.
An XML sitemap file helps search engines like Google analyze the website by describing the hierarchy of pages and their interrelationships. This, in turn, has a positive impact on SEO. Clarity of structure description and syntax used play a vital role in XML sitemaps.
A Sitemap XML file is usually computer-generated using a certain format (XML) from a finished visual website structure or a working website. The majority of CMS, such as Wordpress, generate the sitemap file automatically from a finished website. Another way of creating sitemaps is to use services such as the Sitemap Generator.
- From scratch
The creation of a visual sitemap from scratch includes thinking over the website’s future contents, navigation, structure and its ease of use.
- Using an existing one
You can use an existing visual sitemap to upgrade or refactor it. You can do so by using instruments such as the Visual Sitemap Generator.
A Sitemap Generator is an online or a standalone tool that crawls the contents of the website and generates a sitemap.xml file which contains the list of the website’s pages.
Visual Sitemap Generators help visualize the existing website structure as a hierarchical diagram (visual sitemap). There are two generation ways:
- Using an existing sitemap.xml file. This method is very quick. However, in cases when the file is absent or if its contents are incomplete, the visualization may be incorrect.
- Crawling — a more complex and lengthy method, most often isn’t free. It is not dependent on the presence or completeness of the sitemap.xml file. The crawler scans the contents of each page and creates a visual sitemap. It is a great solution if there is no sitemap.xml file or if its contents are incomplete.
Usually the sitemap.xml file is located here - example.com/sitemap.xml. However, there are cases when the file simply doesn’t exist or is located elsewhere, e.g. on another domain or under a different file name
- You should have a ready sitemap.xml file on domain
- Sign In or Register on Google Search Console
- In the left sidebar choose Sitemaps
- Enter the URL where the sitemap file is located (e.g. yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml)
- Click Submit.
These are optional tags of a sitemap protocol. Keep in mind that you’re only giving hints and not directions for action. It is not guaranteed that the search engines will do exactly as you have specified in these tags.
changefreq — How often the contents of the webpage may change
lastmod — The date of the latest file updates.
priority — Used to tell the search robots which pages of your website are more important than others and more desirable to be used in the search rating. Possible values vary from 0.0 to 1.0, where 0.5 is considered a default value.
Sometimes we won't be able to generate a visual sitemap from certain websites and you will receive a “something went wrong” error. There could be various reasons for that:
- there is no sitemap.xml or access to it is restricted
- its location is unknown
- the browser cannot read and generate a sitemap for technical reasons
In this case, we recommend uploading sitemap.xml as a file
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