Since we have been talking about more advanced ways to improve your dealer website Search Engine Optimization (SEO), today we wanted to dive into the topic of sitemaps. Because this is a more advanced strategy, we are dedicating a separate blog post to talk about it.
As the secret of SEO has been getting out there, more and more dealerships have been optimizing their websites for search engines. This makes it even harder to beat the competition because the playing field is already leveled out.
If you aren’t familiar with web programming and coding, it may feel overwhelming to read this article. However, we assure you that this information is beneficial for your dealership website’s SEO and will truly put you ahead of your competition because XML sitemaps are so under-utilized.
Before we dive in, we wanted to go over a few important terms:
- Sitemap – A sitemap is an important tool for website owners because it allows you to see what pages you have and where they are located. This is especially helpful when you run into 404 errors or failed redirect links. It is important to eliminate page errors and indexation problems when you notice them, because it lowers your overall site quality which affects your SEO, Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) rankings, and can frustrate your customers.
- XML sitemap – This is what you submit to Google. An XML sitemap lists the most important pages on your dealer website, which helps search engines find those pages and crawl all of them. This is important because you want Google to understand the structure of your website.
- Website crawling – A software process that searches websites and requests its content. It will index the pages/content it wants to save, like a browser. The easier it is to crawl your website, the better it is for your SEO.
XML sitemaps are one of the most under-utilized ways to boost your SEO. If you haven’t already submitted an XML sitemap to Google, you should get started now. It is one of the fastest way to get your pages indexed and puts you ahead of other dealerships that aren’t willing to go through this process. In this article, we are going to cover how to build your sitemap, how to optimize your site for your sitemap, /robots.txt files, and how to submit your sitemap to Google.
Creating a Sitemap
If you are using a popular Content Management System (CMS) for your website, it is likely that your provider will have generated a sitemap for you already. At AutoJini, we create sitemaps for all of our websites.
If you don’t have a sitemap, visit sitemaps.org for instructions to start building one. Make sure that your sitemap is posted on your site with a URL.
Here are some basic tips for creating your sitemap:
- We strongly encourage using an XML sitemap because it is the format that is primarily for search engines
- Be consistent with your URLs. For example, if we were to submit AutoJini’s sitemap to Google, we’d list our URLs as “https://www.autojini.com/” instead of “www.autojini.com/” (missing “https://”) or “https://autojini.com/” (missing “www”)
- Be sure your sitemap isn’t too large (must be fewer than 50,000 URLs)
Optimizing Your Site
It is important to note that your overall site quality as well as the quality of your individual pages will affect if Google decides to index them or not. Therefore, if you have low-quality pages or pages that virtually get no traffic, we would recommend for you to remove the pages entirely. Merge the content from the pages you remove onto your already existing pages.
Be sure that your pages are loading properly and quickly, because a slow website may indicate that there are errors in your web coding or other issues. A web page that loads too slowly also lowers your SEO rankings.
We are including this section on /robots.txt files because there are many dealerships who have already implemented it on their website. If you aren’t using a /robots.txt file or aren’t interested, you can skip this section.
The /robots.txt file gives instructions about their site to web Robots. When a Robot visits a website, it checks to see if there is a /robots.txt file. If one exists, they will analyze the content. Users may utilize /robots.txt files because you can tell web Robots not to index specific pages on your site. If you are using the /robots.txt file, make sure it is consistent with your XML sitemap to avoid confusing search engines.
How to Submit Your Sitemap to Google
Once you have your XML sitemap generated, it is time to submit it to Google. Locate the URL of your sitemap, and submit it using Google’s Sitemaps tool.
For more information, visit Google’s Search Console Help.
This material may seem tricky, but it doesn’t have to be. If you had any trouble following along or are in need of any help, we are happy to assist you! At AutoJini, we build sitemaps for all of our websites. We will build an XML sitemap for you and submit it to Google to get your pages indexed in no time. Call or contact us today to get started.