Sitemap is an XML file that is full of your individual webpage’s URLs. It’s like an archive of every webpage in your website. This file should be easily discoverable in your site in order for search engine crawlers to stumble upon it.
What is a Sitemap for?
A Sitemap is usually used for the purpose of letting the search engine crawlers follow the links to all your individual Web Pages so that it won’t miss out on anything.
Sometimes we leave out URLs or hide them from all visible pages because we don’t exactly want some of the users to go there. As a result, some of these URLs are uncrawlable to search engine spiders.
We can still leave those URLs hidden from some users without having to lose out on those pages not being crawled by search engine spiders through including them in an XML Sitemap.
How does your Sitemap affect your SEO?
Search engines should see all the pages that you want them to see. The more pages that they index from you, the more trust your site gains. It only means that your website has more information to offer.
Making sure the search engine spiders get to crawl all the stuff they need to crawl from your website is the exact purpose of a Sitemap. It’s not for navigation; it’s not for internal linking. It’s for the search engine spiders.
Why Use a Sitemap
Using sitemaps has many benefits, not only easier navigation and better visibility by search engines. Sitemaps offer the opportunity to inform search engines immediately about any changes on your site. Of course, you cannot expect that search engines will rush right away to index your changed pages but certainly the changes will be indexed faster, compared to when you don’t have a sitemap.
Also, when you have a sitemap and submit it to the search engines, you rely less on external links that will bring search engines to your site. Sitemaps can even help with messy internal links – for instance if you by accident have broken internal links or orphaned pages that cannot be reached in other way (though there is no doubt that it is much better to fix your errors than rely on a sitemap).
If your site is new, or if you have a significant number of new (or recently updated pages), then using a sitemap can be vital to your success. Although you can still go without a sitemap, it is likely that soon sitemaps will become the standard way of submitting a site to search engines. Though it is certain that spiders will continue to index the Web and sitemaps will not make the standard crawling procedures obsolete, it is logical to say that the importance of sitemaps will continue to increase.