07 May 2015

SEO 101 Series: How to Create a Sitemap [VIDEO]

This is the fourth of six SEO 101 series videos on the fundamental building blocks that make up well optimized websites. Each remaining post over the next 2 weeks will cover a different topic in short, to-the-point videos that will help you ensure the health of your website and your published content. After all, you can’t be successful at content marketing or other initiatives unless you build your website on a strong SEO foundation. To see all the SEO 101 series, you can find the list here or sign up for email updates.

Sitemaps are an important part of your website’s search engine optimization. They act like a map, telling the search engines all the pages and files on your site that should be indexed. They can also be a map for your human visitors to better understand the sections of your site they can navigate to. Watch this video to learn more about how sitemaps work, why they’re important, and how to create one for your website.


Today, we’ll be discussing how to create sitemaps.

There are two types of sitemaps:

  1. XML
  2. HTML

XML documents act like a map for your site, allowing a search-engine robot to know which pages to check first for updates since it last crawled. It helps to speed up the process in terms of page discovery and indexing for the search engines. It also allows search engines to find really deep pages within your site. So if you have deep content at 4 or 5 subfolders within your website, this sitemap can help search engines find that easier.

An HTML sitemap is actually geared more toward our human visitors than search engines. It shows each one of the major sections of our website and then all of the sub pages within each of those sections. So it gives a nice little breakdown of all the webpages on our site and helps our visitors to easily find the content they want.

You can check to see if your website has a sitemap by going to your domain, followed by /sitemap.xml or /sitemap.html. To begin, you can see we’ve got our URL here, www.verticalmeasures.com/sitemap.xml showing our XML sitemap. This will show you what an XML sitemap looks like and here you can see you’ve got the URL’s listed as well as the priorities, the change frequency, and the last change.

If you don’t have a sitemap you can build one easily by going www.xml-sitemaps.com or using Screaming Frog software. As you scroll down it gives you instructions. There are four simple steps:

  1. First, enter your root domain.
  2. Then you will want to change the sitemap creation frequency in this drop down. There are several options depending on how frequently you change or add content. This gives the search engines an idea of how much they should visit. So if you’re adding an article every week, you might say weekly.
  3. The next option is to choose the response time; we recommend choosing the server’s response time.
  4. Lastly, Priority: we recommend choosing “Automatically Calculated Priority.” This allows the site to calculate the priority of the sitemap.
  5. Click Start and allow the site around 5 minutes to process your sitemap.

In order to use your newly created sitemap, you must upload it to your server like any other page. This process varies for each situation, so check with your hosting provider for details.