What Are Sitemaps and How Do They Affect SEO?

Jul 10, 2023 | Web Development

When a prospective customer looking for plumbing or HVAC services performs a Google search, will your website appear at the top of the page? Search engines like Google use a range of factors to determine where your site ranks among your competitors, including keywords, natural language processing (NLP), sitemaps, and more. But what are sitemaps, and how do they work to drive traffic to your site?


What Is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is an XML file that helps search engine web crawlers analyze your site’s text, images, videos, and layout to assign an index score that helps the search engine determine where your page should rank for certain keyword searches.

Google recommends using a sitemap in a few different scenarios, including:

  • If your site is large, including 500 pages or more
  • If your site is new with very few external backlinks to your site content
  • If your site has a lot of non-text content, such as videos or images
  • If your site has specially formatted content or current content like news articles

Even if your website doesn’t fit into one of Google’s recommended scenarios, you should still consider having a sitemap to rank higher for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). SEO services include several strategies that you can use as a comprehensive plan to boost your site ranking beyond your competition when a potential customer looks for “plumbing services near me” or “HVAC repair in (city, state).”


How Do Search Engines Use Sitemaps?

Search engines use web crawlers to inspect websites and index-linked pages based on keyword use, content authority, and other factors. These bits of code are responsible for telling Google and other search engines what your site is about and if you have high-quality content for certain keywords.

So what are sitemaps? If you submit a sitemap to Google or use a sitemap generator plugin like Yoast SEO on WordPress, you can tell the web crawler bots more about the content on your site. Your sitemap will tell the crawlers what pages, images, and content you think is important, as well as instruct the bots to ignore certain pages like test blogs and templates.

A sitemap can make it easier for a crawler bot to navigate your site and find new content faster while reducing clutter data from old pages or dead links. By directing the crawlers to the best content on your site, you help your site rank higher than if you let the crawlers navigate your site content normally.

Your site should have a place for you to upload your XML sitemap file. You can then add your sitemap link directly to your Google Search Console to check to see when Google finishes crawling your pages.


How Does the Google Search Console Work?

The Google Search Console is a comprehensive tool to help site owners understand their Google Search statistics and performance. It will also show you when Google has crawled your site and if there are ways you can optimize your site’s performance.

To start using Google Search Console, you will first need to verify that you own your site. Once you do, you can generate several reports to monitor your search performance, including the index coverage report, mobile usability report, search performance report, and sitemaps report.

To submit a sitemap in your Google Search Console, go to your “Index” tabs in your Console dashboard. From there, you can submit the URL to your sitemap file and click “submit.” Google won’t crawl your sitemap immediately, so you’ll need to check back later. However, you’ll get a message that says, “Sitemap index processed successfully” when Google does crawl your sitemap.


Incorporating a Sitemap Into Your SEO Strategy

Sitemaps are an essential part of technical SEO, which is the aspect of SEO having to do with coding, structure, and hidden features that visitors don’t often see or care about, but that help your site appear more relevant and score higher with indexing bots.

You want to update your sitemap when you add new content, restructure certain site elements, or make other relevant changes to your site or content. These updates can help the crawler bots recognize new content sooner and give your site a higher domain authority (DA) score. But what is domain authority?

Domain authority is how much of an expert Google or another search engine believes you are on a certain topic. So if your plumbing company ranks the highest in your area for “sink installation,” it’s because you have great content on your site for sink installation services. Google then assigns you a higher domain authority for keywords related to “sink installation,” leading to your site appearing at the top of the search results.

You can use this information from your Google Search Console reports to determine which keywords you rank highly for and which keywords you need to reformat your content around to improve your domain authority and ranking.

So if you want to target “AC replacement in (city, state),” you can improve your AC replacement service page, as well as create several blog posts about the topic. Then update your sitemap so Google can find your new content more easily.


Driving Traffic to Your Website With Effective SEO Strategies

Sitemaps are one aspect of SEO that can affect where your site appears on the results pages. To get more traffic to your HVAC or plumbing company website, you need well-written text content targeting your main services, local SEO results, and authority content on your blog.

You also need a well-designed site that loads quickly for both PC and mobile users. Users need to be able to find your site easily and want to stay on your site to follow your site’s call-to-action.


Contact Polianna for Plumbing and HVAC SEO Services

What are sitemaps? They’re one part of a comprehensive SEO strategy. At Polianna, we help HVAC and plumbing companies get new leads through targeted SEO campaigns. Check out our blog to learn more about SEO trends for 2023, and schedule a discovery call today to learn more about how our SEO strategies can help you grow your business.

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