You are having a good website and your website needs recognization at the search engines, then you should must have a sitemap for your website. If you are not having a properly linked sitemap with your website then your website is at high risk for not to be properly indexed by the search engines. Well managed sitemaps increase the ability of search engine robots [bots] to locate, access and index all the relevant URLs of your website. You should refer to any best sitemap guide or a plugin to create a good sitemap.
The first and foremost thing at which you need to pay attention that “list all your relevant URLs at your sitemap”. Just counting of how many URLs you are having is not enough. Another you need to tell the search engines where your sitemap is located using the robots.txt file for Google/Bing Webmasters tools.
2 – Do not use Stalled Sitemaps
Generally, website owners focus on aesthetic changes to their websites and often forget to update the URLs at their sitemap. Search Engines keep getting the sitemap with the same list of URLs for months even sometimes years, while website keeps changing. It happens due to broken or unmonitored processes of updating the sitemap. A Content Managment System can be greatly helpful to avoid such gap or simply forgetting to stop referring to the previous sitemaps.
Keeping best SEO practice, you should ensure that the sitemaps referred in your robots.txt and Webmasters tools are the appropriate ones and it should content only the lists of the relevant URLs which are live at your website. Ideally, your sitemap should be automatically generated at least once in a day. As a complementary to the sitemaps, you should also have RSS feeds to tell the search engines about all your fresh URLs which enables search engines to find the new URLs in a matter of minutes rather than up to a day or two.
3 – Use “View Source” Feature to test your sitemap
You have to pay attention on how your website URLs are encoded and follow the policy guidelines of search engines. The search engines may found lots of ampersand characters which are not encoded [invalid XML files] or encoded twice [appears like this &ami;amp;]. You can use a trick, just view your sitemap in your web browser by using the ‘View Source’ feature. This will show you the same sitemap as the search engine see. You browser default web windows can decode the specific URLs as listed in your sitemap and URLs may look fine without being fine.
4 – CorrectUse Sitemaps Attributes Values
Search Engines are constantly monitoring and adapting to benefits from URL signals, including sitemaps attributes values. As a best practice, do not output any of these attributes in your sitemaps if you are not able to set the appropriate values. For example, do not set the <lastmod> value set to the time you generate the sitemap. <lastmod> should be the date of the last modification of the content linked from your sitemap. Ensure to follow the protocol – <lastmod> values must be in the requisite format. If you don’t know how to generate this format, use YYYY-MM-DD. Do not use a country specific format. And avoid setting <changefreq> and <priority> attribute values to the same values if you don’t really know when the content will change and will not be able to differentiate priority between URLs.
Search Engine encourages you to visit Webmaster tools regularly to get the latest information and data about your site. You don’t need to log into Webmaster tools and publish your sitemaps each time you generate them. Instead, refer your sitemaps once in your robots.txt or in search engine Webmaster tools and we will process them regularly.