Google Sitemaps started off as a convenient way for webmasters to inform Google of changes on their websites, addition of new pages and to facilitate crawling hard to reach pages. In recent weeks Google Sitemaps has evolved into a very valuable tool that provides insight into how Google perceives a website.
For search engine optimisers, Google Sitemaps offers a rare glimpse into the mind of Google. The new information provided by Sitemaps allows webmasters and SEO agencies to quickly find problem areas in websites, troubleshoot spider accessibility traps and most importantly track the success of optimisation campaigns.
New Features On Google Sitemaps
- Lists all crawl errors with a separate list of 404 errors
- Analyses the robots.txt file and provides testing of allowed / disallowed pages
- Top 20 queries for which your website was displayed in the search results
- Top 20 queries users searched for and then clicked on your site listings
- Lists the 100 most commonly used words throughout the site
- Lists the 100 most commonly used words in external links to your site
Using The Information Google Sitemaps Provides
Any webmaster who does not already have Google Sitemaps set up should start right now by setting one up for their website by clicking on the link below.
Correct Crawl Errors
Once you have a Google Sitemap set up for your site, the first and most important step you should take is to ensure that all the pages you want to be indexed are listed in the file and that they are being crawled. Any pages that display crawl errors should be rectified.
Remove Broken Links
Broken links identified by the Sitemaps reports should be either deleted or updated. Leaving broken links on a site is a sign of neglect that is noticed by both human visitors and spiders.
Analyse Search Queries
Go through the list of search queries that bring visitors to your site. If these are queries you did not expect to receive visitors for, it might help to modify content to cater for these visitors. Also be sure to analyse the queries that your site was served for but did not receive clicks. They might indicate a need to improve on your Google search result listing’s copy.
Check Page Content
Ensure that all the keywords that are important to your business are being indexed and recognised by Google Sitemaps. If the main keywords for your business are not included in this list, your site content probably needs rewriting.
Analyse Link Text
Links to your site must contain your keywords and should be well-rounded. An inordinately high number of external links using the same text is usually unnatural and may raise a red flag when the spiders evaluate your website for ranking. Lack of links using your keywords, on the other hand will make it very difficult for your site to rank for those keywords.