What is a sitemap and why is it important?

What is a sitemap and why is it important?

Humans are not the only users on your website. Robots visit your website as well. What is the role of the sitemap, and why is it important in this robotic espionage, find out in a blog.

We have recently developed new functionality in our CMS system, so we want to present it to you in more detail. This time we have improved the part related to SEO optimization of the website, called sitemap.

Definition of sitemap

A sitemap is an XML file that contains all the links on your website, in all language versions.

Using sitemaps, Google and other Internet search engines know about your links and help them better understand the structure of your website.

If the content on your page changes over time, or you add new links, then you need to update the sitemap. Let’s say you add new blog posts to your website via the CMS system. It will generate a new link, and then you need to update the sitemap to include that new link as well.

You can update the sitemap in 2 ways: manually and automatically.

What is a sitemap and why is it important?

Manual sitemap generation

The first way is to manually generate a new sitemap every time you update content on your website. You can do it using free tools found on the Internet like XML-Sitemaps.com.

Usually, these tools have limitations, like a maximum of 500 links that can be in the sitemap. If your website has multiple links then you need to pay for the premium version of the tool. While we were using those tools, we noticed not all links from the website are in the generated sitemap. This led us to the conclusion that the free tools don’t work very well.

Besides, if you create a sitemap this way, then you must have access to the server that hosts your website to replace the old sitemap with a new one. It also means you know how to connect to the server, and you know where your sitemap is, and much more.

Another disadvantage of generating sitemaps using online tools is that they do not have access to your website's database and cannot know exactly when the content was last updated. Therefore, these tools will fill the "lastmod" tag with time at the time the sitemap is generated, which is incorrect. This should indicate the time when the content on that link was last updated in the database you are editing via the CMS system.

In addition to the "lastmod" tag, the sitemap also contains the "changefreq" tag, which indicates how often the content on that link changes, and the "priority" tag that was used to prioritize the links. As of recently, Google no longer checks the “priority” tag so you don’t have to bother with that.

If the content on your website is translated into several languages, then each link in your sitemap must contain tags for that link in all languages available. This way, Google knows about all language variations of each link and can decide which link to show to the user in the search results.

Automatic sitemap generation

Automatic sitemap generation

For all these reasons, we decided to develop a new SEO module in our CMS system that generates the sitemap automatically.

This dynamic sitemap allows Google and other search engines to know all the links on your website at any time without taking any further action. As a result, your links will be indexed faster and better positioned in Google search results.

You can read more about the sitemap and all its possibilities in the official documentation for sitemap on the website of Google.

We hope that we have managed to bring you closer to this theme and the importance of the sitemap. If you want to have a website that dynamically generates a sitemap, feel free to contact us.