The XML sitemap is a direct and effective way to connect with the search engines, as it facilitates them to find the pages on your website and to recognize faster the new content. It is important because your new pages rank faster, and of course, frequent indexing improves your website ranking in search results.
Usually, Google does not give a clear message when it comes to SEO, but when it comes to sitemaps it provides a guide for website owners. Google reports:
“If your sitemap pages are properly linked, web crawlers can usually find the most out of your website. However, a sitemap can improve your site crawling, especially if your website meets one of the following criteria… “
- has a lot of content that is not well connected
- has rich multimedia content
- makes frequent updates (especially eShops that have thousands of products)
- is a new website with some external links
- has dynamic content
In other words, a sitemap is not necessary for SEO, and sites are not ranked better or worse as a direct result of their existence or not. However, it can make a significant difference indirectly, especially for websites with the above features that Google recommends its use. But even though XML sitemaps help Google quickly find all the main pages on your site, it still states that “adding a sitemap does not guarantee to find these URLs”.
In simple terms, every website may benefit from SEO, helping Google to easily crawl the new websites and the latest updates. Some Content Management Systems (CMS) can automatically create XML sitemaps. However, if this is not the case for you, there are many amazing tools to choose from:
Free Version | Premium: €89/ year
If you use WordPress, this is probably the best option. Yoast is a popular SEO plugin with many features. Creating a sitemap is just a tiny part of what it can do. Yoast SEO plugin automatically creates a sitemap for your website and submits it to Google and Bing. The best thing about this plugin is that it updates automatically. Once you create a new blog post or a product page, a link is added immediately to your sitemap, so you do not have to worry about it.
Also, the Yoast SEO plugin has integration with Google Search Console, so you can see how your site performs in search results without leaving the WordPress dashboard. It is also great for creating the best dynamic sitemaps for your websites.
One of its most impressive features is the ability to create sub-sitemaps, separated into categories for every 1.000 links. It is convenient, especially for larger websites. Each sub-sitemap connects to the main sitemap, which permits Google to access the entire directory.
2. SE Ranking
Free Version | Premium: from €23/ month
For those not using WordPress, it may be the best choice. SE Ranking is a lesser-known tool, but with many advanced features. In its free version, there is a sitemap generator providing an unlimited number of pages, as a part of the SE Ranking Website Audit tool. Useful SEO features are included, like the ability to track keyword performance, to do an SEO audit on your website, and more.
SE Ranking is easy to use, and also provides the ability to select the types of pages you want to include in your XML sitemap. Thus, you can very easily exclude pages such as redirections (3xx), client (4xx), server (5xx), duplicate or normalized pages, pages excluded from robots.txt, noindex, and nofollow pages.
Free Version | Premium: £149/ year
Screaming Frog is an extremely powerful desktop software with a wide range of SEO features. It is the tool used almost by every SEO expert. It provides the ability to create an XML sitemap for any website in a few minutes, regardless of the website’s CMS type. The free version allows the crawling of 500 pages. If your website is larger and you have to crawl more than 500 pages, you have to purchase the annual version. It’s worth it, especially if you want to focus on SEO as a marketing tool.
Screaming Frog has more advantages, such as its functions for finding broken links, discovering duplicate content, visualizing the website structure, and much more. You can also integrate this tool with Google Analytics to retrieve user data and control live metrics such as bounce rate, goals, conversions, and more.