A sitemap is a guide in a website that contains links to all the other pages in the website. It helps search engine crawlers and internet users to find the information and content they are looking for. Typically, a sitemap is organized in a hierarchical fashion with the most authoritative pages being listed higher up in the document. The URLs and links to different pages on a website are contained in sitemap files. These links are placed together so that web crawlers can easily find them and redirect users to the content and information they are looking for. Since, Google, Yahoo, Ask and Bing use the same sitemap protocol, having a sitemap in your website greatly enhances the online visibility of your website. It is therefore that you create a sitemap, which can be done with the aid of a website mapping tool like DYNO Mapper.
Typically, every website must have at least two different types of sitemaps, XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps. The XML sitemap is essential for proper indexing, crawling of pages on your website by search engines while HTML is designed for web users and placed on the home page of the site. A single XML sitemap is recommended for basic and small websites with about hundred pages. Creating both sitemaps is effortless, especially when using a sitemap generator. There are however many other compatible formats you can have, but at the moment, the two are highly recommended. Irrespective of the type of format, you may have to create more than one sitemap for a single website, depending on the site’s size.
The main reason that necessitates the need to have multiple sitemaps is the size of the site. Sitemaps come with size limitations in that one sitemap cannot hold more than 50,000 URLS and should not be more than 10MB in size. As such, when you have a site that has over 50,000 URLs, then you need to have multiple sitemaps that can accommodate these links. Size limitations are very vital in ensuring that web servers are not overloaded by large files served to search engines.
If you use multiple sitemaps in your website, it is important that you create a Sitemap Index File. This file acts like a sitemap for all the sitemaps you have in your site. The file lists all the sitemaps in the site in one collective folder for easy crawling by search engines. Multiple sitemaps should only be used when your site requirements exceed the size limitations provided for a single sitemap file. For simple additions and updates in the website, you need not create an additional sitemap as search engines are able to pick up these updates when crawling your site.
Updating a sitemap is not the same as creating multiple sitemaps. Obviously, if there is a significant update on your sitemap you should consider having the sitemap re-crawled so that you can keep your site within the relevant search results according to different search queries.
Why You Need Multiple Sitemaps
The main reason why you should consider adding more than one sitemaps is not only to minimize crowding of links, but also to ensure that all pages are crawled and indexed by the search engines. Multiple sitemaps are very efficient in classifying and categorizing the content in a website. This may not necessarily increase your website’s PageRank but enhances better online visibility. Also, having multiple sitemaps helps achieve better search engine optimization. For instance, if your site is a content directory website with several authors, creating multiple sitemaps each for every author allows their articles to be easily found when by the search engine bots.
Creating a Sitemap Index
If you have created multiple sitemaps for your site, then you should consider creating a sitemap index, which is a file that simply lists all the sitemaps in the website. It is important to note that this index can only be used in specifying sitemaps in the same domain. The steps that need to be followed when creating this index are similar to those followed when creating a sitemap. The only difference is that the <loc> and </loc> tags should contain values on the location of the sitemaps as opposed to location of pages in the site.
The concept of creating multiple sitemaps is not only suitable for large sites as it can also be used by small sites that are growing at a fast pace. The structure that you will use when creating several sitemaps for your websites is determined by the depth of your web pages in terms of the content in each of the sections in the sites.
Errors To Avoid When Creating Multiple Sitemaps
When creating multiple sitemaps or any sitemap in your site, it is important to ensure that there are no white spaces preceding the tags. This leads to broken links and search engines may not be able to crawl your website correctly if links are not complete and may have a negative effect on your SEO. You also need to ensure that plugins are well coded to prevent conflicts between the site plugins and search engines thus resulting to a 404 error (site not found) when users are redirected to your website. In addition to this, you also need to ensure that you save the settings of your site’s permalinks properly so that the plugins in the site can allow the creation of multiple sitemaps.
How Many Sitemaps Are Required
The major determinant of the number of sitemaps needed by a website is the content and site’s size. For a small website, there is no need for a compulsory HTML sitemap since visitors can easily find needed information without any stress as the web pages are physically visible. An XML sitemap is however recommended for such websites especially those with blogs that have quality and frequently updated contents for search engine ranking.
Websites with Multilingual Content
Multiple sitemaps are advisable for websites that have multilingual content. With a reliable XML website mapping tool like DYNO Mapper, your website will have different sitemaps to manage all the languages and their peculiarities. The XML sitemap file can localize online users’ searches to the various language requirements of your visitors by targeting and matching them with their respective language.
Dividing your XML sitemap file into units and segments makes it easier for future changes. It must be well nested for easy discovery of modified or deleted pages. The organization of the content is the major reason for having sitemap on your website. Use a website mapping tool to create, submit and update multiple sitemaps.