A sitemap is kind of like someone handing you a roadmap and giving you immediate directions to find their place. See, Google is great at listing websites, but with around 100,000 new sites being added to Google every day, it can take some time for your site to turn up, and if you don’t hand Google a sitemap it will take much longer.
There are actually two kinds of sitemaps…a HTML sitemap, which goes on your website as a page, and an XML Sitemap, which you give to Google.
The HTML Sitemap
The HTML sitemap is basically a page with a list of all your pages, blog posts, and products (if you have an e-commerce site), with links to each of those pages. You don’t need to add the Sitemap to your main menu as it’s not really for the site visitors but more for helping Google’s spiders crawl through your site faster and determine where your pages should be listed.
It is recommended though that a link to the HTML sitemap be added to the footer of your site so that it can be found easily. The link can provide a lot of quality SEO value for your ranking.
The XML Sitemap
Then there is the XML sitemap. This is very similar to a HTML sitemap, but in an XML format that can be uploaded to Google Webmaster Console.
To create an XML sitemap can be done two ways and only take a few minutes.
The first is if you own a WordPress website, install the free Yoast SEO plugin and turn on the Sitemap option in the Tools. You’ll find a link which will auto-generate your sitemap link. You just grab that link, head over to Google Webmaster Tools and submit the sitemap.
The second way for all sites non–Wordpress is Google-search for ‘Free XML Sitemap Generator’. You’ll find a number of them that are very easy to use. Just add your website address into the text box provided on their site and it will generate the sitemap. Download the sitemap when finished, which only takes a couple of minutes, and then you’ll need to upload this into your Hosting either via your hosting Cpanel or via an FTP application such as Transmit for Mac or Cute FTP for Windows.
Once you have uploaded it, again, copy the website URL with the sitemap attached (eg, www.mysite.com/sitemap.xml) and log into your Google Webmaster Console and submit the sitemap.
You’ll usually get a notification from Google via email in a day or two telling you it is reading your sitemap, as well as additional tips on how you can improve your visibility online.
Each time you make a change to any of your website pages, add a new product or a new blog post, Google will know about it instantly. As you grow your authority value with Google you’ll find that your posts can start appearing on Google in just a few hours, thanks to your sitemap.
A sitemap is a massive benefit if you want to rank fast, and is pretty easy to do in just a few minutes.