While we all know how hard it is becoming for content marketers to rank content on search engines. I’d like to point out a very basic mistake that most marketers make. By now, you might have guessed that we’ll be talking about XML Sitemap checks.
Wait, what’s an XML Sitemap? It’s like a roadmap for search engines to help them discover URLs of your website. While keeping a regular eye out for them is crucial, many of us just ignore it. We just submit them to our search consoles and think “Woah! It’s done.”
Well, that’s not the case. You should check them on a regular basis so as to prevent incorrect URLs from being crawled and potentially indexed. Further, even to protect important URLs from being missed. Wait, but How to check XML Sitemap of a website? No worries, I’ll be explaining the whole process in this post.
To help you with this, here’s a list of XML Sitemap checks to improve SEO and even boost your ad revenue.
How to Check XML Sitemap for SEO
1. Any Important URLs Missing?
This is the first step and you need to check that the main (or important) URLs are on the list only.
You might realize that your XML sitemap is static, where it’s untouched from the day your website was created. And just so, there’s a chance that it will be outdated. This is why I recommend using a dynamic sitemap, as automatically updates, but don’t forget to check the settings to ensure that key segments/URLs are not missed.
2. Any URLs that Need to be Removed?
Generally, try to avoid generic error code URLs like 4xx, 3xx, 5xx, etc, along with canonicalized, no indexed or orphaned URLs.
You must include only the indexable URLs in your sitemap. The list should include only the ones that serve a 200 response code and belong to your website.
How to check: You can use the same tools to solve this problem as well.
3. Are all my XML Sitemap URLs Indexed by Google?
To gain clarity over which URLs are indexed, you should check your Search Console. If you haven’t submitted your sitemap in GSC (Google Search Console), then you should consider doing so.
Once done, Go to Index Coverage to view the Coverage report.
Here, the “Errors” section highlights issues such as 404 URLs, and the “Excluded” section shows reasons why other URLs are not indexed.
The list of “Excluded” section, includes:
- Crawled, currently not indexed
- Duplicate, submitted URL not selected as canonical
- Discovered, currently not indexed
URLs found within the segments I just mentioned suggest issues with thin or duplicate content, an issue when accessing them, or are poorly linked/orphaned URLs.
By using URL Inspection, you can test the live URL. Further, if it’s not the path you want to opt for, review the quality and internal linking of these pages.
For larger websites, try to split URLs into smaller (child) sitemaps and then, submit them individually to give you a more focused Coverage report. This would help you to better understand and prioritize your ranking concerns.
Lastly, be sure to include your XML sitemap checks in your next performance review.
Here’s my episode hosted on The Brand Marketing Podcast which covers this topic. If you’d like to listen to this blog post, just click the play button.
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