Sitemap, standard web protocol since 2006

In SEO, the Sitemap is part of an essential optimization foundation. What exactly is this SEO website map? How is it essential for your website to be indexed by search engines, and more specifically Google?

Sitemap, standard web protocol since 2006

To exist on the web, any website needs to be referenced in search engines such as Google, Qwant or Bing. The latter use crawlers, also called spiders or bots, to browse the Internet, identify pages and documents on the web or follow links between websites.

This tedious data collection work, which is essential for indexing the web, requires ever-increasing resources.

In 2006, for search engines, it became important to improve efficiency and index more quickly the millions of pages that are created every minute, while controlling the resources allocated to indexing. The three leaders of the time, Microsoft Live Search (the future Bing), Yahoo! and Google then agreed on the adoption of a standard, the Sitemap protocol.

What is a Sitemap file?

A Sitemap, literally in French “sitemap”, is an XML file that lists the different URLs of the same website. Each of them is associated with a certain number of metadata:

  • the date of creation or update;
  • the frequency of content modification;
  • the relative importance of the url compared to the other urls on the website.

In addition to listing all the pages of a showcase website or an electronic store, an XML SEO Sitemap can also contain images, videos and many other files such as PDFs. In this case, it may be advisable to create a dedicated sitemap.xml to facilitate indexing by search engines.

How important is an SEO site map?

The objective of a Sitemap is undoubtedly to facilitate the indexing of all the pages of a website. It must also be submitted by the webmaster or SEO agency to search engines via Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console.

The SEO website map submitted in this way provides them with important information, especially regarding the frequency of spider traffic on a given page.

Note that many errors when generating an SEO Sitemap can block or slow down the indexing of a website. Obsolete versions of the XML standard used, pages inaccessible due to the robots.txt file or too many URLs listed are among the most common errors.

Today, the SEO Sitemap is a basic part of SEO. Submitting it to search engines has little influence on your ranking. On the other hand, not meeting this elementary criterion or poorly constructing your website plan can serve you much better.

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