A sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the URLs on a website and is used to inform search engines about the organization of a site’s content. Sitemaps help search engines to crawl a website more efficiently and can be used to provide additional information about the site, such as the frequency of updates and the importance of specific pages.
Sitemaps are especially helpful for large websites, or for sites with a lot of dynamic content, as they provide a clear overview of the site’s structure and make it easier for search engines to discover new content. This can lead to improved crawl coverage and faster indexing of new content, which in turn can help to improve the visibility of a website in search engine results.
Additionally, sitemaps can be used to inform search engines of specific information about a website's pages, such as the last time they were updated and how often they change. This can help search engines to more effectively crawl and index a site.
In short, sitemaps are a way to communicate with search engines about the structure and organization of a website, which can help to improve the visibility of the site in search engine results.
Search engines use sitemaps to crawl and index a website in the following ways:
When a search engine crawls a website, it will first check for the presence of a sitemap and, if one is found, will use it to guide its crawl of the site. The search engine will then use the information in the sitemap to update its index of the site and to improve the visibility of the site in search engine results.
Here are some best practices for creating and using sitemaps to improve SEO, along with some statistics and sources to support their effectiveness:
You can find more information on these best practices and statistics in resources like Google's Webmaster Guidelines, Moz, Search Engine Journal and other reputable sources.