Google’s XML Sitemap Update came at a time when the internet was experiencing major growth in several different areas:
Blogging: Blogging was just starting to take off. It seems like everyone has a blog today, but back then blogging was still a relatively new idea. People who “blogged” prior to 2005 typically just used it as a personal diary, but then there was a shift. During this time blogs started popping up about all kinds of different special interests.
e-Commerce: You can buy pretty much everything online today, but in 2005 e-commerce was starting to see it’s first big push. Larger e-commerce companies like Amazon and eBay were already pretty well established by this point, however, in the early and mid-2000s, there was a huge influx of smaller and boutique e-commerce shops opening for business.
Online Forums: Social media was in its early stages back in 2005, but online forums were extremely popular at the time. Some were gated, but many were public and would show up in search results, just as they do today.
The internet was growing, and all of a sudden, Google found itself with a TON of more data to sort.
This created a problem for both website managers and the search engine giant.
As a result, Google decided to roll out an algorithm update that would help crawlers consume information on websites more efficiently.
While previous algorithms did not serve to categorize areas of a website very well, the XML Sitemap update, which included a free tool for webmasters, would allow Google to prioritize important pages on an individual website.
This would, in turn, improve the quality of SERPs for Google users.
Back in 2005, there was not much you could do to tell search engine “bots” how they should process the data on your website.
There were a few tricks that SEO professionals could use to give search engine crawlers hints as to which pages on a website were important. However, there wasn’t a real system in place until this Google algorithm update rolled out.
Before, we mainly relied on things like HTTP page titles to designate which pages were important.
Needless to say, this was pretty ineffective.
There was no system for “telling” crawlers whether a website page was the main landing page, a sub-category, or a product page. The lack of hierarchy made it so that the pages webmasters wanted to rank in search weren’t necessarily the ones that were performing the best.
Thankfully a better solution was on the way.
Google’s free XML Sitemap tool was a game changer.
Now there was an easy, straightforward way for webmasters to tell search engines how to read information on their website.
What is an XML Sitemap, you ask?
An XML Sitemap is a list that webmasters would create and submit to Google. The search engine would then use to interpret the organization of a website.
By creating a sitemap, website owners were able to highlight the core pages on a website. This was a way of essentially let Google know which were less important.
The way Google uses sitemaps today hasn’t changed much since 2005.
However, the way webmasters generate them has.
Today, it’s easier than ever to generate an XML Sitemap for your website, especially if your website is built with WordPress.
That’s because there are several free plugins that will create your sitemap for you with the click of a button.
As a business owner, optimizing your website is probably a big priority for you, so you’re probably wondering what, if anything, XML Sitemaps do for SEO.
Sitemaps do not have any impact on your Google search rank, but they’re still important to SEO.
As a website owner, you want to make it as easy as possible for Google’s crawlers to evaluate your website.
Indexation is an important part of that.
Remember, Google does not just rank your website as a whole, it also ranks pages within your website individually as well.
For that reason, we highly recommend that all website have an XML Website.
Today, aside from an XML Sitemap, there is much more we can do to make it easier for crawlers to properly index our website.
If you know your SEO best practices, chances are you’re already doing some of these things.
Practices like adding meta titles to your posts or pages and alternate text to images on your website can help bots crawling your website index and rank your content faster and more efficiently.
Algorithm updates are intended to help improve the user experience for people using Google Search.
Even so, these algorithm updates can send webmasters into a tailspin. Sudden changes can cause your website’s rank to drop in search results.
However, in the case of the XML Sitemap Search Algorithm Update, everyone including webmasters were able to benefit.
The main reason you put so much effort into your website is to attract visitors and getting noticed by Google is the fastest way to make that happen.
XML Sitemaps as an Indexation tool only served to help website owners get more pages ranking in Google faster.
So, in the case of the particular update, everyone was a winner!
As you can see, it’s really important that your website is indexed properly.
There are tools available that can help you, but properly indexing a website still requires some level of specialized knowledge.
If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best that you seek the help of a seasoned SEO professional.
Are you just getting started with your SEO efforts? A great place to start would be requesting an SEO audit on your website.
A knowledgeable SEO professional will be able to give you a comprehensive list of changes you can make to your website. These changes can help you perform better in search engines.
At AdPros Marketing, we help business owners just like you optimize their websites to gain visibility on the web.
Contact us today to learn more!