What is a sitemap and why it is important for your website

You can read about sitemaps in every single article regarding search engine optimization. But what it actually is and how to create one for a Joomla website? Read further in the article.

What is a sitemap?

The term sitemap refers to a hierarchical list of all pages that are on a given site. 

In most cases, it is an XML file in the website's root folder (https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml). This file helps search engines orient in the website's structure and index your site better.

The sitemap file also includes information about the frequency of changes on the given page and the priority of the page regarding the website as a whole.

Basic information passed through the sitemap XML file

Is sitemap important for SEO?

As Google states in their documentation about sitemaps: "If your site's pages are properly linked, Google can usually discover most of your site. Even so, a sitemap can improve the crawling of larger or more complex sites, or more specialized files."

The sitemap will help you in the following cases:

1. Your website is new

If your website is new and therefore not indexed by Google at all, you can help the indexing with the sitemap.

2. Your site is large

If your site is large, Google crawlers (and other search engines, too) can have difficulties indexing your website. The bots can overlook new and recently updated pages since there is a maximum time the bot can spend crawling your site.

3. Your site has a lot of not linked pages

Linking pages from one to another is an important part of SEO. And the reason is to help search engine crawlers to find every single page there is. In the case of not properly linked pages, you need a sitemap.

5 often sitemap mistakes

How to create a sitemap for a Joomla website?

You have a few options. You should choose the right one based on your website structure.

1st option: Write it on your own

This option only comes into play if your website is small and linear. Then you can create an XML sitemap file in any text editor and add the content.

2nd option: Use a free service

In case you can't or don't want to write it on your own, you can use one of the free services. The downside of this option is that you have no control over what is included in the sitemap file. The service crawls your website and adds every single link it can find. You can't set the priority for some parts of the site differently than others. Nor you can set the frequency.

The crawling part can take a lot of time if your website is big since there is no other way for the service to get the links.

3rd option: Use W7 SEO Uplifter

The best option to create an XML sitemap for a Joomla website is to use W7 SEO Uplifter. You can choose the types of sources you want to be part of the sitemap file (e.g. menu items, articles, categories, etc.), set its frequency and priority.

The links are not taken from the crawling but are fetched from the database. Hence the process of creating the sitemap file is much faster and you have everything under control.