Next, follows our keyword research whereby we look for keywords that not only describe our products and services but also provide enough traffic volume for our marketing efforts to generate sufficient leads for our sales team to close. After all this effort we then identify long tail keywords and group them by our buyer’s intent and start building lead magnets which are offers that our potential customers simply cannot refuse. We lace our lead magnets with tripwires and begin cross-selling and upselling our products and services before sitting back and waiting for our traffic to spike. Usually we’ll see a noticeable improvement in our efforts and will track the bump in increased visitors using Google Analytics, HubSpot or Moz. But hang on a minute? What absolutely crucial and incredibly simple tweak have we missed? You won’t believe how simple and effective this tweak is, but I bet you’ve often over looked this crucial element to improve your SEO.
When was the last time you updated your website? And when was the last time you updated your sitemap? Errr, hang on – let me check. I bet it wasn’t recently. Now let’s step back a second, what does the sitemap actually do? A sitemap tells search engines what pages exist on your website and how to crawl and categorise them. That’s incredibly important. But what effect will an out of date sitemap have on SEO and SERP? From my recent research and testing, the answer is an awful lot. With my old out of date sitemap which had many crawl errors and broken links, if you searched for ‘Digital Transformation Gloucestershire’ or even ‘Inbound Marketing Gloucestershire’ our site didn’t rank very well. Head over to Google now and enter those very same search strings and we’re number one for both those search strings. That’s quite a big difference. So ‘how do I improve your own sitemap?’ and ‘how much will it cost me?’ are two logical questions. I’ll show you how to update your sitemap with the steps below, and the best part is that it’s free. Here we go.
- The first step is to check your website for broken links and then to fix them. To do this, browse to http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/ and enter your website address. You’ll receive a report detailing which links are broken and then you need to fix them.
- Once you’ve fixed your broken links you need to generate a new sitemap, robots.txt file, etc. and upload this to the web server that hosts your website. To do this, browse to https://xmlsitemapgenerator.org/ and choose the online generator. Enter your website address. Just accept the default settings, provide an Email address for your sitemap to be Emailed to you and enter the Captcha text. Shortly, you’ll receive an Email with a load of files. At this point I chose to make a small donation to the website owner who created the tool as I feel that people who produce such outstanding work should be rewarded. Believe me, I’ve tried several free sitemap generator tools and none had the same effect on my SERP rankings so it’s probably the best marketing investment you’ll ever make.
- Armed with your new sitemap files, upload these to the root directory of your website. If you’re not sure how to do this then contact your website hosting company and they’ll do it for you.
- Lastly, you need to submit your new sitemap to Google and request that it be re-indexed. To do this, browse to the Google Search Console (https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en) and expand the crawl directory for your website as in the image above.
Then, select Sitemaps and enter sitemap.xml in as the file name and location and submit to Google. If you need any help with this then use the comments section below and I’ll see if I can help.
Now, just sit back for a day and wait for Google to re-index your page and for the traffic to spike. Use Google analytics (https://analytics.google.com) to monitor and chart the increase in traffic and feel free to share the results with me. Good luck!