Sitemaps and search engine optimization (SEO) are both important components of a strong website, but when they’re planned concurrently, they can take your website to the next level.
Let’s see how SEO and sitemap creation go hand-in-hand and how they will work together to boost your search rankings.
Difference Between SEO and Sitemaps
To start, let’s take a look at the key differences between a sitemap and SEO.
A sitemap is a hierarchy of web pages that make up a website. Search engines crawl a sitemap to find and identify any information that is applicable to a specific search query. To give you a better visual, here is what GreenMellen’s sitemap looks like.
On the other hand, SEO can take on many forms, but the standard definition is: “the process of improving the quality and quantity of website traffic to a website or a web page from search engines.”
Usually, for websites, the easiest way to implement SEO tactics is to start by performing keyword research and identifying keywords and phrases that are relevant to your business and audience’s needs.
While they have different definitions, it’s clear SEO and sitemaps can work together to improve your site’s searchability.
How to Improve Your SEO With Your Sitemap
Many people don’t know this, but it’s always a good idea to audit your website every few years (maybe even once a year if you’re able to) to make sure it stays in line with your business goals and reaches your target audience. When performing this audit, you can also check to see if your sitemap is working alongside its SEO efforts.
Here are some ways to ensure your sitemap is helping your SEO:
- Create web pages around your keywords. Maybe it’s as simple as slightly tweaking your page content with your keywords, or maybe you need to create new pages around your new services and keywords. No matter the case, on-page SEO is very important when it comes to boosting your website’s rankings.
- Categorize your pages in a way that’s logical. Remember, the primary purpose of a sitemap is to help search engines understand your site’s structure and content. In most cases, the main content structure is the homepage, then top-level pages, and finally sub pages. The key here is to segment your content into “buckets” that are similar with each other and not scattered, which will enhance both search engine crawling and user experience.
- Make sure essential pages are accessible and no-index pages are not. Sitemaps should only include the pages you wish to be indexed (or found by search engines). If it includes no-index pages (pages that should not be indexed by search engines), there’s a chance that newer pages will not be indexed as soon as they can and may result in lower rankings.
- Maintain the pages that live in your sitemap. If search engines see a 404 error when crawling your sitemap, they will be unable to index this page or understand your site’s structure. Even worse, it could flag your sitemap as untrustworthy or not safe, which would drastically hurt your SEO efforts.
Next Steps for Your Sitemap and SEO
There are plenty of other ways to ensure your sitemap structure is working properly for search engines, and if you want to dig into these technical requirements and best practices, Search Engine Journal has a great resource for this.
Want to make sure your sitemap and SEO are working hand-in-hand? At GreenMellen, we have created hundreds of sitemaps and know how to make yours work the best for your business. If you have any questions about how we can help, contact us today!