Sitemaps are like the route map of a city. How and where you should go and take roads to reach a destination is what a website sitemap tells you about. And, this is precisely for search engine algorithms that understand the route description of a sitemap only.
So, when you create a sitemap, whether manually or with the aid of a sitemap tool, your prerogative is to deliver the required objective of its optimization. There are several ways to do it, such as simply by customizing the process in the editor of the sitemap generator you are using. They include, but not limited to:
- Prioritization of web pages
- Content categorization
- Restrict the number of URLs per sitemap
- Proper keyword-rich descriptions
- Having the sitemap page on the homepage
For search engines, sitemaps are an easy and straightforward way to get information about the structure and pages of a website, providing some crucial metadata like how often the page is updated, when they were last changed, or how important pages are in relation to each other.
However, there are certain best practices to leverage the power of a sitemap to your maximum advantage. 3 of those certain best practices are listed here.
Best Practice #1: Prioritize High-Quality Pages in Your Sitemap
Overall site quality is definitely a key factor for ranking. Avoid directing bots to thousands of low-quality pages, instead, try to direct bots to the most important pages on your site. Those pages would be highly optimized pages, include images and videos, having lots of unique content, and prompting user engagement through comments and reviews.
Best Practice #2: Include Only Canonical Versions of URLs in Your Sitemap
Having multiple pages that are very similar, such as product pages for different colors of the same product? Use the “link rel=canonical” tag to tell Google which page is the “main” page it should crawl and index.
Consult SEO Services Experts to get the page canonicalization properly.
Best Practice #3: Use Robots Meta Tag Over Robots.txt Whenever Possible
We usually use the meta robots “noindex,follow” tag when we don’t want a page to be indexed. It prevents Google from indexing the page but it preserves your link equity. These pages are useful for your website but you don’t want those pages to be showing up in search engine results pages. But, make sure to use robots.txt to block pages when you’re eating up your crawl budget. It means when you see bots are re-crawling and indexing relatively unimportant pages, for example, the individual product pages, at the expense of the core page, you should use robots.txt.
You need to keep your sitemap always updated. And it is now easier as you can automatically update the sitemap, thanks to automated sitemap generation tools like the DYNO Mapper website mapping tool. However, the creation and addition of wrong sitemaps to the websites may drastically damage ranking prospects. That’s why you should consult a professional SEO services company.
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