Different Sitemaps for Different Purposes

20 May, 2020

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Beyond XML Sitemaps: Video Sitemaps, Image Sitemaps & Mobile Sitemaps: 

Our previous article on XML and HTML Sitemaps received a great response, along with several requests for explanations of the other types of sitemaps for media content. Don’t worry if you didn’t even realize there are sitemaps for videos, images, and mobile; you will also be relieved to know that you only need to consider submitting two of these. Read on to find out which one isn’t needed and which two sitemaps may be good additions to your site. Today we will explore: 

  • What video sitemaps are & why we might need one

  • What picture-sitemaps are & why we might need one

  • What mobile sitemaps & why we might need one

To learn more about XML and HTML Sitemaps be sure to check out this previous article on these types of sitemapsWhat is a Sitemap?

Why Do Site Owners Need a Video-Sitemaps?

In recent years video content has increasingly become the medium of choice for drawing the attention of visitors and creating interesting web pages. Rather than embedding videos that are posted on a site’s Youtube channel, some site owners choose to host their videos on their own server. This could be because the videos are an integral part of a site’s design, or that the site owner wants to make sure that everyone who views the videos, does so on their website where they won’t get distracted by other videos from other channels. Submitting a video sitemap is an important way of making sure Google can find videos hosted this way.

Do I Need  A Video Sitemap?

You should definitely think about submitting a video sitemap If:

1)  You are hosting videos on your website that you want search engines like Google to be able to find because these videos have a good chance of bringing people to your site. A good example of video content that is useful for this purpose are product description videos: they often feature keyword-rich descriptions of the products offered. On the other hand, it probably isn’t necessary to submit a video sitemap for a site that just features decorative short clips of shifting patterns or animated logos.

2) Any website that deals with fresh video content and needs to appear in the search engine results as quickly as possible to stay relevant should consider submitting a video sitemap. For example, news websites and topical blogs should submit and regularly update their video sitemap. This will help to ensure that any videos with short term appeal are found as quickly as possible by search engines. This is important because Google crawls some websites less frequently than others. A video sitemap is one of many signals that current affairs websites can send to Google to draw attention to their video content and encourage frequent crawling from the search engine. This will help to make sure that Google finds video content while it is still fresh. This is becoming increasingly important in a world of fast-changing 24 hours news cycles.  

Correct Video Formatting for Google Video Sitemaps for Google

If you are considering submitting a video sitemap,  you need to make sure that your hosted videos are in accepted file formats that Google can crawl and index. These are the file formats that Google recommends:

.3g2, .3gp2, .3gp, .3gpp, .asf, .avi, .divx, .f4v, .flv, .m2v,, .m3u8, .m4v, .mkv, .mov, .mp4, .mpe, .mpeg, .mpg, .ogv, .qvt, .ram, .rm, .vob, .webm, .wmv, .xap

Note in 2020 Flash is not supported by many web browsers so should not be used. 

These video formatting recommendations are taken from Google Webmasters best practices for VideoIf your videos are not in any of these formats, you should convert them to an acceptable format before taking any further steps with submitting a video sitemap.

Do You Need A Video Sitemap for embedded Youtube videos?

Google best practices encourage users to create a video sitemap for embedded Youtube videos on your site: 

“ it is still helpful if you provide a video sitemap or structured data to help Google find the embedded YouTube video on your page. Sitemaps and structured data also help you provide us additional information about the video.”

Quote taken  from Google Webmasters  best practices for Video

So the short answer from Google for embedded videos is yes it couldn’t hurt. However, the value of  a video sitemap, in this case, is not as high as with self-hosted videos and there may be more important things to do with your time first. A Video sitemap may give Google extra information on a site’s video but Youtube is owned by Google, so if you want to make sure this video is found on Youtube for the right terms, it’s more important to make sure that each video is uploaded with effective meta titles and descriptions, as any video on Youtube won’t have any problem being indexed by Google.

Before you submit a Video sitemap for embedded Youtube videos you should make sure the descriptions and titles of your videos on Youtube are all keyword optimized and that the video and descriptions have appropriate eye-catching links that will draw users to click onto your website. Improving these areas will have a bigger impact on where your videos appear in the results,  as a click-through from Youtube is the most likely way that a user will find the video and website of an SMB with embedded Youtube videos.

How to Create or Submit A Video Sitemap?

If you want to submit a Video Sitemap to Google you have two options, either you can add your video sitemap to your existing xml sitemap. Or you can submit a separate Video sitemap. When doing this, make sure your robots.txt isn’t blocking Google bots from the

  • The page URL 

  • The video URL

  • The thumbnail URL

For more info on the coding of sitemaps along with some examples check out this Google Webmaster article on video sitemaps 

Why Do Site Owners Need an Image Sitemap?

Easy to use CMSs and widespread high-speed internet connections have made images a more and more essential part of site content. The average E-commerce website can contain hundreds or even thousands of images. Many of these images have a chance of appearing in Google’s image search results and bringing visitors to the website. It’s important to remember that the main results page isn’t the only place visitors find websites to click on. Images can also boost a site’s SEO with the keywords used in its image alt tags. Submitting an image sitemap enhances the chances of these images being found. 

Do I Need  An Image Sitemap?

You should definitely think about submitting an Image sitemap if your website has hundreds or thousands of images that could have keyword rich descriptions added to them. Such as product photos and educational diagrams. 

Image sitemaps are also strongly recommended for websites that present images using unorthodox coding languages such as Java or that feature images with embedded descriptions. They should also be considered for any images that are presented in a way that goes against Google best practices for publishing images. Though, presenting images that you want to rank, in a manner that goes against these guidelines should only ever be done as a last resort.

How to Create or Submit An Image Sitemap?

If you want to submit an Image sitemap you have multiple options. You can add the info on your images to your existing XML sitemap or you submit a separate Image sitemap to Google. To make sure Google has as much information on your images as possible you may also want to consider using the  Google image extensions for sitemaps. For more  info on these tips and advice for submitting an Image sitemap visit the Google Webmaster page on Image sitemaps

Why Do Site Owners Need a Mobile Sitemap?

This question should actually be why did site owners need a Mobile Sitemap?  Sitemaps are a relic of early smartphones that connected to the internet through WAP, which required a simplified version of a website. Modern Smartphones access the main version of your website and so the mobile sitemap is the same as the main sitemap. This means an additional Mobile Sitemap is not needed anymore.

Do I need A Mobile Sitemap

Unless your website intends to target the extremely niche audience of WAP phones from the 2000s, definitely not, when was the last time you met someone with a WAP phone? Forget about Mobile Sitemaps and instead focus on your Image sitemap, video sitemap, and meta descriptions!  

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