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Setting Up XML Sitemap

xml sitemapA sitemap isn’t just a guide visitors use to find specific pages on your website. It is a powerful tool for SEO as well. It is a list of URLs that you want Google to crawl and index. If you want your webpages to rank high on popular search engines, an XML sitemap is the best way to do it. Just follow these steps to create your own -

Step 1 – Identify the type of Sitemap you need

A standard XML sitemap is the first step. The next step is to choose specialized sitemaps for your website. This is important. If your website focuses on specific areas like videos, images, news articles or the like, your sitemap extension of choice should mimic it to improve traffic to these areas. There are basically types of specialized sitemaps that you can choose from -

1-  Video
2 – Images
3 – News
4 – Mobile
5 – Standard Sitemap
6 – Sitemap Index (if you have multiple sitemaps)

Let’s say that your website promotes your Youtube videos. In this case, a standardized sitemap with a video sitemap would be your best choices.

Step 2 – Generating your Sitemap

Once you have chosen the type of sitemap you would like to work with, the next step is to generate it. Thankfully, online sitemap generators spare you from hand coding your sitemap. But keep in mind, your choice of generator also depends on several factors like -

• The number of pages you will be submitting
• Your CRMs
• The level of optimization you need for indexing

You can choose any one of two types of generators to create your XML sitemap:
1 – Generators that crawl your website – A good choice if you want to keep yourself updated on the status of any broken links, URLs and other aspects
2 – Backend based generators – These are CMS specific

Step 3 – Structure and Content

Determining the URLs that will go into your sitemap is the next step. URLs also have an impact on SEO so you want to get this right. A good rule of thumb is to find out which pages you want crawled and indexed first.

To structure your sitemap for the most gains, create separate sitemaps for every major level. For example, if you own an ecommerce website, your structure should include separate sitemaps that direct crawlers to your product pages.

Step 4 – Test

After you have created your sitemap, the next step is to test it. You can use free online tools and applications on the web to do so. Google Webmaster Tools is a good choice for free submissions. It will help you determine if your sitemap follows proper XML protocols.

But before you submit it to Google or any other search engine, make sure that it -

• Does not list pages that you do not want indexed
• Lists the pages that you want indexed
• Has tags that describe their respective URLs appropriately

Step 5 – Submitting your Sitemap

Once you have all of your checks and balances in place, the last step is to submit your completed sitemap. Make sure that you choose the best search engines. Webmasters consider Bing and Google as two of the best choices.

The best approach to creating an XML sitemap is a structured one. Follow these steps and you won’t have a problem creating a sitemap that search engines love.

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Understanding Link Tags And How To Decipher Them

Advanced Link Building StrategiesEvery SEO specialist needs to get a good grasp of building links. Google, the world’s largest search engine, is designed to crawl and index webpages with an aim to provide the best search results. How does Google choose which among the billions of pages online deserve the top spots?According to its website, the search engine’s algorithms “rely on more than 200 unique signals or ‘clues’” such as keywords, the freshness of content, and PageRank. These signals make it possible for Google to return the best results per query.

The Two Sides of Link Tags

In boosting your SEO, it’s essential to know how to make proper use of a link tag, which provides a “clickable area” on a page that users can use to move to another page. However, not all links work to your page’s favor. Take note of the distinction between a do-follow link and a no-follow link. Do-follow links are links that count as points and boost page ranking while no-follow links, as the term implies, do not add value to the page as far SEO is concerned. It’s basically a notice for search engines saying “don’t count this.” Examples of no-follow links include robots, meta tags and link attributes.

Manually Decipher No-Follow Links

There’s a simple way of identifying the do-follow and no-follow status of links in your webpages. If you’re using Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. For Mozilla Firefox, simply Right-Click>View Page Source. Do an Edit>Find and key in “nofollow” in the search box. All no-follow tags will be highlighted for your easy reference.

SEO Tools For Your Link Tag Hunting

If you’re managing a lot of web pages, you can make your job a lot easier by using tools in identifying link tags. Here is a quick list:

How to check no-follow links? NoFollow outlines no-follow links, <noindex> HTML tags and optionally all links on pages with no-follow or noindex robot meta tags. It shows meta tags for googlebot (Google), slurp (Yahoo), msnbot (Bing) and teoma (Ask). It also enables you to customize your own CSS styles for outlining. NoFollow is available for Chrome, Opera, and Safari.

User review: “Been using this plug-in for a while. Really useful.” – Brian Scott

    • NoFollow Simple

This extension for Chrome outlines all no-follow links on web pages. NoFollow Simple is pretty straightforward. You just need to install it and let it work automatically.

User review: “This plug-in shows all no-follow links in red which is very useful.” – Preston Miller

    • NoFollow SEO Link Highlighter

One of the extensions to use in checking no-follow links is Wayfair’s NoFollow SEO Link Highlighter. It allows you to highlight links that direct to any of your domains using a color of your choice. The highlighting feature can be turned on and off for different sites. This extension is available for Chrome.

User review: “This made my work checking no-follow links and brand mentions a lot easier. A great tool for online marketers.” – Jessica Woodbury

NoDoFollow is an extension for Mozilla Firefox. It highlights links in a page and color codes them and a do-follow or no-follow link.

User review: “I’m glad this plugin still works with any latest version of Firefox. This is a very useful add-on for me when spotting no-follow or do-follow links both in my website and off sites.” – Alex N. Dawson

No-Follow Links Are Not The Villains You Think They Are

Although no-follow links give you no SEO point, they can still provide referral traffic. Remember that aside from PageRank, Google uses a number of signals or clues to determine which pages to return to users. A quality content, no-follow or not, can lead to huge traffic to your website. Moreover, regardless of its status, a link that is relevant to your business and target audience can help build your brand.

A perfect instance when no-follow links can be beneficial to you is illustrated in websites with a Wikipedia link, which has a no-follow status. Gianluca Fiorelli of IloveSEO noted: “I dug into that link and discovered that it was to a post about the Welsh immigration in Patagonia present in that site’s blog. Is that link sending traffic to the site? Probably not at all, but it was noticed by someone in the BBC website, who finally linked to that same post citing Wikipedia. Boom, now that travel site not only has one link from Wikipedia, but it has also an important backlink from another trusted seed: the BBC.”

Help Google Help You

Understanding the importance of link tags is essential in your SEO strategy. However, there are other factors that you should take note as a webmaster. One of these is the set of quality guidelines that help Google find, index, and rank sites. Basically, your pages should be created for real users. There are countless webpages solely created for search engines that only add up to the piling junk in the Web. Google suggests that you ask yourself this question: “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?” Create unique and interesting content that will catch the attention of your target audience. Ask a digital marketing agency in the Philippines or in any other places for that matter for tips.

How can you help Google help you and your SEO? Place keywords that typical users would type to find your pages; design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy; and check the advertisement links on your pages to make sure they do not affect search engine rankings. Moreover, although Google is able to crawl HTML content in less accessible pages in your site, it’s still necessary that you make the most important information visible by default.

SEO is the core of your digital marketing. Businesses, regardless of the sector, are beginning to acknowledge the power of a well-planned and intelligently executed SEO strategy. If you’re a newbie in the field, you’re in for an exciting ride as the SEO realm is one that develops over time. It’s your job to track and navigate its path.

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