How Does a Search Engine Know How to Crawl Your Site?
Have you ever visited a website that had “site map” listed somewhere either at the top or in the footer of the page? A site map is a great tool for visitors because it allows them to click on the link to view an index of all the pages within the website. But the benefits of a site map do not stop there. They also help with SEO efforts.
By submitting a website’s site map directly to a search engine, the owner of that website is telling the search engine exactly which pages or how many pages within the site should the indexed. While a search engine like Google might eventually itself be able to index all the pages within the site, giving it a site map allows the owner to speed the process and help improve ranking within the search engine at a faster rate.
You may have heard the term ” robot” or “crawler” in reference to a search engine. These terms refer to the same thing and are simply a program that search engines use to index pages and content across the Internet. The more pages a website has, the higher the possibility for favorable placement in search engines simply because there is more content and more room for optimization. It is likely, however, for pages to get overlooked by a robot for one reason or another. So, a site map helps ensure you don’t loose credit for any of your valuable work.
Creating a usable site map may seem like a daunting task, but is actually quite simple. One of my personally-favorite tools is a site map generator that will provide you with free file as long as your website has less than 500 pages. Visit www.xml-sitemaps.com to create your very own.
As a final note, I am asked quite frequently how often site maps should be resubmitted to a search engine when changes are made to the site. As you may know, every time you post a blog it adds another page to your site and therefore changes the site map. There is no hard and fast rule about this, but I tend to resubmit a site map if I make a structural change to a website or add a new page, but I only resubmit once a week if all I have done is add blogs. (Note that a 301 redirect will need to be added to the backend of the site when major changes are made to ensure visitors can still get to your content using old links.)
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