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Sitemap – what should be included in the sitemap?

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Are you wondering why your website is not visible in Google, or maybe you have updated your data, and your browser still has information before the change? Check if your website has a sitemap.

The basis of optimization of any website is to create a place that will be willingly visited not only by people, but also by content indexing robots, which is why it is so important to have a good navigation system that ensures the readability of website. Transparent layout of menus, categories and content should connect with friendly links – this is the first step to appear on the web, once this lesson is done it is worth helping the search engine, and the best solution is to generate a sitemap.

What is a sitemap?

Sitemap is a file that contains all the information about the website: texts, videos, graphics, photos and other files located within the website, it also contains information about the relations between these elements. Please note that the sitemap does not guarantee automatic indexing of our site, but it will certainly help the robot in correct indexing and will speed up the process.

Sitemap has several tasks:

Informs the robot which files should be included in the index and which should be omitted. Within a website there are usually content that we want to be visible in a web browser (dofollow) and content that should not be there (nofollow). A well generated sitemap contains these markings, so that the robot knows how to act, i.e. whether to go to a given page and index it, whether to skip it and not enter it into the index.
Provides the robot with important information on files, e.g. time of the last update, frequency of changes on the page. Updates of website data are important for positioning, active websites with interesting content for users, receive a higher position in search engine indexes.
Informs the robot about alternative language versions. In case of multi-language websites, the search engine should direct users to the most appropriate version of the website for them. A web browser is able to do this even without a sitemap, but a clear indication of pages for different languages will significantly accelerate and help correctly index links for different languages.

How to generate a sitemap in .xml version?

Generation of sitemaps can be carried out in several ways. In case of small websites, you can use free sitemap generators, but they do not always meet the requirements of sitemaps.org or correctly create xml with links. Free sitemap generator will work only for websites with few URL addresses, usually these tools have subpage limits or are not able to generate sitemap with more links. The online sitemap generator will also not satisfy the needs of websites, which are often updated – in such a program we can create a single xml file, which we will provide, for example, Google, but after each change on the website it is necessary to create a new sitemap.
The best solution is to install an extension, which will form xml sitemap in a specified time, taking into account the individual elements of the website.

What to pay attention when creating a sitemap?

Most popular CMS enables you to add a sitemap, some have a built-in system for creating sitemap, but if you use Joomla and have a multilingual site with K2 add-ons or you run a Joomla store with HikaShop, the generated files may differ greatly from the requirements set by sitemaps.org, and this leads to incorrect indexing by Google.

Sitemap can contain up to 50,000 URLs, and its maximum size is set at 50Mb, so if the sitemap exceeds these limits, it must be divided into several smaller files – this creates an index of the sitemap, which contains links to all the subordinate elements.
If you have a multilingual website, all language versions should be included, they should be marked with hreflang attribute. Correctly entered attribute will enable to direct the search engine’s robot to specific version of a given subpage, we will avoid incorrect redirections from indexed URLs.
In addition to links to subpages, the sitemap should also contain the addresses of images that are on them.
Updates – if you add new content or products, change addresses, remove some URLs, you should update a xml sitemap file. In case of an extension integrated with our website, it is worth paying attention to the time in which the file is updated. If you generate a file on external websites, each time you change the URL on website, you will need to re-generate the sitemap, throw it to the right place on a website and send it to Google.
A sitemap file should be encoded in UTF-8, so avoid special characters and capital letters, because prohibited characters can be misinterpreted by robots, which index the link incorrectly and this can translate into 404 errors on the page – and nobody wants that.
URLs should correspond to specific subpages, i.e. if the address is https://ignisdev.com, then all URLs should not contain "www", i.e. the address https://www.ignisdev.com is then incorrect. Of course, this rule is two-way, so if you use www in front of the address, then the lack of www in links will be incorrect.

Where can I find a xml sitemap on my website?

If you don’t know if you have a generated sitemap file in your website or online shop, or if you want to check how it looks like, type in the search bar:
https://[website address]/sitemap.xml (if you do not have website encryption, then at the beginning insert http:// instead of https://)
Most often at this address you can find a page index or sitemap and see which addresses are in it and whether it has been generated correctly.

Registration of sitemap to Google Search Console

Creating a sitemap is one thing, but drawing attention to it by robots requires another step from us, namely to register it in Google Search Console. In Google panel you can check if the sitemap is correct and how many addresses have been indexed correctly. Registration is free of charge, we only need to sign in to Google Account and upload the sitemap file. This action will allow the robots to see a sitemap, accelerate indexation, and follow the process.

Go to Ignisdev Joomla sitemap generator

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