In order to successfully enhance your website's SEO and user navigation, follow these best practices for creating a sitemap:
Include Important Pages: Make sure that all important pages of your site are included in the sitemap. Any page you want search engines to index should be included.
Exclude NoIndex Pages: Do not include pages in your sitemap that are marked as "noindex". Including them can send mixed signals to search engines.
Keep it Up-to-Date: Regularly update your sitemap with new content and remove any links to pages that no longer exist.
Follow XML Sitemap Protocol: Ensure your sitemap adheres to the XML sitemap protocol standards. Incorrect formatting can prevent search engines from crawling your sitemap correctly.
Break Down Large Sitemaps: If your site contains over 50,000 URLs or your Sitemap file is over 50MB, split it into several smaller sitemaps to meet Google's requirements.
Prioritize Pages: In your sitemap, use the <priority> tag to signal to search engines which pages are most important. However, keep in mind that this is only a suggestion to search engines, not a command.
Use Lastmod Tag: Use the <lastmod> tag to indicate when each URL was last modified. This helps search engines understand which pages to crawl.
Submit Sitemap to Search Engines: Once your sitemap is ready, submit it to search engines like Google, Bing, etc. For Google, this can be done through Google Search Console.
A well-crafted sitemap not only helps search engines crawl and index your site effectively but also improves user experience by providing a clear roadmap of your website.