What is Image Sitemap?
Sitemaps are first step towards SEO. Most of the sites use it. Image Sitemap is special type of sitemaps. Google recommends using it for Images. In this link Google has clearly outlined the importance of it if you are using Images on your website.
You can use Google image extensions for sitemaps to give Google more information about the images available on your pages.
You can use a separate sitemap to list images, or you can add image information to an existing sitemap.
I have written separate article which lists all type of sitemaps. You can read the post and decide which types you need on your website. By providing more information about your images you are increasing likelihood of them getting indexed and ranked higher.
It is also fastest way to get your Images indexed. You can visualize Image Sitemap similar to Web one but for Images. So the benefits you get with Web one are also provided by Image one. Image one is more beneficial because it has all information web sitemap. In addition to that it has specific tags for Images.
So by creating Image Sitemap you are helping Google decide context of your web page and images on web page. The additional Image information helps Google understand your web page better. This helps your web page indirectly in search ranking.
Does your site needs image sitemap?
Every website uses Images. Images are very popular content. But for some type of sites Image are main content. They are more important than text content. I would recommend every website to create sitemap for images.
But it becomes very important for Image focused site. Below list gives some site type which should always use it. You can use below list as reference. Based on it you can judge if your website needs one.
- Photography Sites
- Travel Sites
- Classifieds Sites
- eCommerce Sites
- Other Image heavy sites
- If you want traffic from Google Image Search
Note for above type of sites Image Sitemap is more important than Web sitemap. Actually they can dump web one and only use Image one without major impact.
Image Sitemap vs Web Sitemap
Above I mentioned Image one is more important than Web one. To understand this statement we need to understand Sitemap protocols for both.Below is important tags Google defined as part of both Web protocol and Image protocol,
Google recommends below information for Web protocol.
- URL of the web page
- Time the web page was last modified
- Priority of the Web page
- Frequency the content gets changed
- All tags of Web protocol. URL in this case URL of web page where Image is present
- URL of the Image
- Title of the Image
- Location of the Image
- Geographic Location of the Image
- License of the image
You can see above Image protocol has more tags than Web protocol. It provides more information about your page and images.So if on a page you have image then using Image sitemap is better than web sitemap. IN fact there is no need to use web one.
So if almost all content have images then image sitemap should be used web one can be ignored. But this is not the case all the time.So you can use both sitemap formats for your website. Note there is no problem if same URL is repeated in both sitemaps.Google ignores the duplicate URL. You will not face any issue lie Duplicate content for this.
How to create Image sitemap for your website?
Over the period of time people have understood important for having Image sitemap. This has led to creation of tools which will help you create one for your images. I would recommend tool which comes with your Content Management System for creating one.
It is better not to use external tools for Sitemap creation be it Web, Image or Video. You should only use External tools if there is no other option. For example if you are using WordPress then you should always use WordPress plugins to create it.
Using WordPress plugin will help you automate process of sitemap creation. Your sitemap will get updated with content changes. The whole process will be internal to your website. There is no outside dependency. For people using other Content Management System like Joomla and Drupal it is better to check your plugin directory before using external ways.
Image Sitemap Plugin for WordPress
You can use my plugin to create image sitemap. The plugin comes into two variations Free and Paid. Below is brief comparison of features. You can use this table to decide which version will fit your needs. In case you are not sure which one to use feel free to contact me or post your query.
For most of the sites free version of plugin will work great. But if you are using Gallery plugins or other similar plugins to add images on your site then you should go for Pro version of plugin.The Pro plugin supports popular Image plugins out there.
The free version of plugin is hosted on WordPress.org. It is most downloaded, highest rated, most installed plugin of its category. Some of the top sites are using it on their website. You can read plugin documentation in case of any issues or to get more idea about the plugin.
Image Sitemap testing tools
Google Search Console is best tool to test Image Sitemap or for that matter any sitemap. It reports any error with the sitemap. You can also measure if Image indexing improved or not after adding image sitemap. This is probably best way to know how images performed.
The free as well as paid version of plugins are created with Search Console in mind. There is no Search Console error for sitemaps created by my plugins. In fact I create physical file to minimize the response time. Response time warnings are not good for crawl and indexing rate.
So if you are having response time warning with other sitemap plugins then you can try our plugin.
Image Sitemap myths
I am listing few common questions asked in this post. I have also covered few other questions in this post.
ALT text is not present in Image Sitemap
It is very common question. ALT texts are very important for Image SEO. The free and paid version of my plugins support it. But people often come back and say ALT text is not present in sitemap created by the plugin. Now ALT text are part of your post content. If you are adding an Image to WordPress then you can add ALT text.
For Image SEO you should use ALT text. It helps Google get more information about an Image.The plugin adds this ALT text if you have missed adding it. You can view source of your web page to see if ALT text was added or not.You can also go to Text mode of Visual Editor (WordPress) and look for ALT text.
In both the ways you can search with alt to locate the ALT text. ALT text of your images should be descriptive.The plugin adds the missing ALT text to your web page images. They should not be part of sitemap. Google only recommends using Image title and Image caption.
Note Image title and Image caption fields provide same information to Google as ALT text. If ALT text is heart of Image SEO then using Image Sitemap is also.
I am using ALT text I do not need Image Sitemap
I have covered ALT text in previous question. It is important for On page Image SEO. It is part of your web page content. So while crawling Google gets more idea about the Image and can correlate it with text content of web page. But ALT text does not improve on Image indexing.
Sitemaps ping Google or inform Google about content changes. The content can be Images or Videos. Well formed sitemaps increase Crawl rate and Indexing. The more pages you have in Google index the chances of traffic increases. Image sitemap increases your indexing rate. The indexing of images become faster. It can not be compared to ALT text. Both are totally different yet both are very important for Image SEO.
Why there is more than one sitemap created?
Both free and paid version of plugin support Index Sitemap feature. It was added to support large website. As number of pages and images on your site increase the sitemap size also increases. As per Google recommendation Sitemaps should be split.
This is the feature implemented by both plugins. It helps keep sitemap size small.If sitemap size is large you will see warnings in Google Search Console. Large sitemap takes long response time. Long response time is not good for crawl rate.
Using two sitemaps cause duplicate content
If you read the first para Google clearly stated to submit a new sitemap with image related information into it. You can also add Image related information into existing one. I have stated this before that if same URL is listed two times then Google ignores it.This will never create duplicate content issue.
You will get duplicate content only if same content is present in two different URL.
Plugins pings Google So I do not have to add sitemap in Google Search Console
This is very common question. As stated above my plugins automatically pings Search Engines about content changes. This informs Search Engines that something has changed on this site. Search Engine bots then crawl the site and update them with the change.
Pinging is just a way to tell Search Engines about Sitemap update. But you will have to add the sitemap in Google Search Console. This is one time activity. Once you have added sitemap there is no action from your side.Plugin takes care of everything after that.
Which Sitemap to add in Google Search Console?
You should add Index Sitemap created by my plugins. Index Sitemap lists all sitemaps created. So instead of submitting individual sitemap index sitemap should be added. In case you are using any other plugin for Web Sitemap then submit web one as well.
Google will show separate reports for both of them.As mentioned earlier there is no harm submitted more than one sitemap with URL duplicated in them.
Feel free to post your questions or suggestions.