Particularly useful to index its website, the sitemap is not intended for visitors but for search engines. We explain you in this article the interest of this protocol.
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is an xlm or html file – in the majority of the cases – presenting the architecture of an Internet site. It is a protocol which is addressed to the search engines: it allows a site to be better indexed, referenced.
In this file, information about the pages is entered. We can even list other elements present on the site (images, videos, documents, etc.) as well as the relationships between the different files.
When the Google robots are going to scan a website, they will first read the sitemap to better understand its structure, its tree structure.
Precisions on the utility of a sitemap
When we do a search on Google, there is a good chance that we will find an answer that corresponds to our expectation. Surprising this way that Google has to answer so well to the least question!
Not so much, actually. There are billions of websites and Google knows them all, it scans them constantly thanks to bots in order to detect the slightest new content and to be able to submit the right one according to the users’ requests.
In the case of a website with little content, it can happen that the website is not found by searching it in the search bar of the Google engine. To avoid this, it is possible to send its sitemap to Google to indicate the presence of the site and invite it to scan the pages and thus index the site. This will increase the probability to find the site in the search results.
The submission of a sitemap is not mandatory for Google to find and scan the site but this action guarantees that it will read ALL the pages.
The sites for which a sitemap is essential
Some types of sites particularly need to submit directly to Google their sitemap, as :
- The new sites, which must prove themselves, especially if they do not benefit from any advertising campaign to bring traffic
- The sites composed of a very large number of pages and sub-pages. It is the case for example of e-commerce sites or information sites
- The sitemap is in this case crucial, for the referencing in particular.
How to set up a sitemap with WordPress?
There are several ways to set up a sitemap. In this article, the focus is on the WordPress CMS.
The creation of an XLM sitemap
It is possible to create an XML sitemap via the Yoast SEO extension (or close alternatives). This works with the majority of SEO extensions.
Once on the back-office of the website, we find on the left menu bar various tabs including “SEO”: you must then click on “General Settings” then “Features”.
In purple, you will find various functionalities: “XML sitemap” must be activated. If this is not the case, you must click on the corresponding box.
You can access the sitemap by clicking on the question mark and then on “View XML sitemap”.Or via the link my-site.fr/sitemap_index.xml by replacing ” my-site ” by the domain name.
The WP Sitemap Page extension allows to create an HTML sitemap in a few clicks.
You must first download it and activate it.
Then, you have to create a new page on the site, the title is free and the body text must contain the following information, called “shortcode” (and only that): [wp_sitemap_page]
The page is then published. The page is then consultable and the sitemap appears there.
How to submit your site to Google?
To submit your site to Google, you should use the Search Console, an essential tool to understand how Google interprets and indexes a website. Here are the steps:
- Go to the Search Console: https://search.google.com/search-console
- Select your website in the list of properties. You will have to prove to Google that you are the owner of the site.
- Under “Index”, click on “Sitemaps”.
- Complete with the address of the XML sitemap created before
- “Send” the request: the site is submitted to Google.
To give all the chances to your website and to see it appearing among the first search results, it is therefore almost unavoidable to go through the sitemap.
Do not hesitate to contact our SEO experts if you want to be accompanied on this subject and many others.