“Do I need a sitemap?” Yes don’t skip it.

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“Do I need a sitemap” Here’s how having the right sitemap makes a great difference

Have you recently created a website and has set it live? Did you know that you need to create a sitemap and put it on Google Search Console to make it visible for searchers?

Having no sitemap/the wrong sitemap can have a great impact on your newly created website. A sitemap is needed for search engines to find you website and fully crawl your new pages, posts and images and have you a go at actually popping up as a result on Google searches.

Submitting a sitemap to search engines like Google is like giving them a map of your website. This map shows all the pages and what’s on them. It helps search engines find and list all your pages in their results. So, when someone searches for something related to your site, it’s more likely to show up.

Think of it as putting your website on the search engine’s radar, which can help bring more visitors to your site.

The Problem

The website first went live July of 2023, but when I checked on November of that year here’s the current state of their sitemap on Google Search Console:

It had the wrong sitemap since it went live (July 2023), which is one the most important steps post- publishing that is commonly missed by small businesses when a new website goes live.

Now the thing with new websites is that it has a “sandbox phase” which goes from 3-9 months (varies). This sandbox phase is the best time for a new website to put up a good SEO foundation as these months can serve as a baseline of how effective your SEO strategy is.

This means, that if your website was not able to improve in clicks and impressions after the sandbox period then there must be something that you’re not doing right yet.

Below is the website’s clicks and impressions from when it first went live up to the first week of October.

Now this would be our baseline and see if things will improve after the supposed sandbox period (February 2024). The best scenario that we’re looking at will be increased clicks and impressions.

When starting a new website; It’s more important to focus on getting noticed in search results rather than worrying about getting lots of traffic quickly and ranking for specific terms.

The main aim should be to publish content regularly to address what your audience wants to know. You should also keep an eye on whether Google is finding and listing your content, and how often it shows up in search results. Tracking clicks and impressions can help you see how well you’re doing.

The Solution

The website has 11-12k pages and this means that Google Search Console needs more than one sitemap to accommodate all the pages of the website. So this is what I did on the first day after a baseline audit last November.

What they asked from me was to create a strategy that they could implement on their own. It included mostly on-page optimizations (like which H1s should be on each page) and an internal linking strategy.

They were able to implement the H1s and internal linking as I have suggested, but the rest were not followed. But here’s what happened next after their implementation

The Result

While there are a lot of backend issues that needed a fix for this website, and they have only implemented 2 of my recommendations here’s how having the right sitemap and how a bit of application of my strategy has impacted the website, especially as it has helped their content be recognized.

You can see that even before the supposed end of their sandbox period (February 2024), the site was able veer away from 0 clicks in a day and continues to increase their total impressions in a day. While the website still has a lot to improve on its SEO, you can see how a simple submission of the right sitemap and a few tweaks can have a great impact on your website.

Below is their current progress this June 2024. I believe that if they only followed everything on the strategy I made for them, they could do better but this result is still impressive for a website that is not fully optimized.

June 2024 progress with no full optimization.

Do I need a sitemap?

Of course! You need to submit your sitemap to search engines so your pages and content will be discovered and start showing up on the searches.

But this also goes to say that just having a sitemap is not enough to guarantee to have your website showing up on Google for the searches.

You still need a

  • good keyword research foundation
  • quality content
  • solid technical SEO foundation
  • on page implementations

…for you to guarantee getting out of the sandbox period because without those… you might become the example website below that was created last September 2022-January 2023 (different from our website sample above)

Imagine: You have a sitemap submitted correctly but you don’t have consistent quality publishing, no keyword research for articles, no technical and on page optimization… this is what it will look like in about a year…

Would you rather be never getting out of the sandbox?

Check out all the other SEO case studies and Audits here >>

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you do the same for my website?

I can help you set up your newly created website on Google Search Console, but it should also include keyword research, technical and on page optimizations.

You can set up a call/email exchange with me for a free consultation.

What did you actually do on this project?

I was responsible for the initial audit, strategic plan for 6 months, on page and technical optimization planning as they have a different team for execution.

They only wanted me to create a strategy for them.

Were you in charge of the setup of their Google Search Console account?

No, they already have set up their GSC account, I only added the right sitemaps. But I also do GSC setup for my clients if needed.

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About the Author

Louee Gonzales

An SEO specialist in the Philippines and licensed Psychometrician who also loves writing about psychology and web development.

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