Creating an XML sitemap is one of the most important steps when optimizing your website for better search engine rankings.
So what exactly is an XML sitemap, and why is it important?
An XML sitemap is a file written in Extensible Markup Language (XML) and is developed specifically for search engine crawlers. The sitemap file is a method of communicating to the search engine crawler about the content of your web pages and your website’s organization.
Have you ever used a map to find your way around a gigantic amusement park?
The XML sitemap shows the crawler all of the web pages that make up your website, ensuring that the crawler visits and indexes every single page before it leaves.
If your website is running WordPress, there are many free plugins available that generate dynamic sitemaps such as the Google XML Sitemap Plugin.
Once you have created a sitemap, be sure to establish a Google Webmaster Tools account and submit your sitemap under the sitemaps submission page.
After a Google bot has crawled your website, you will be able to view numerous statistics and diagnostics related to what the crawler found.
You can verify that all of your pages have been indexed by comparing the number of pages submitted vs. the number of pages indexed.
It is important to keep in mind that Google ranks web pages, not just websites. Making sure every web page of your website is indexed will allow you to take full advantage of your website’s ranking potential.