A Sitemap Makes Your Website More Google Friendly | 2 | WebReference

A Sitemap Makes Your Website More Google Friendly | 2


A Sitemap Makes Your Website More Google Friendly [con't]

Creating Your First Google Sitemap

You can create the sitemap for your website manually if you like. You can use the XML sitemap format shown in the previous section to build it. I strongly suggest that you go through Google's documentation on manually creating a sitemap if you choose to go down this path. If you have a website that does not have more than 30 or so pages, this might be a useful effort. However, if you have more than 30 or 40 pages, I suggest you use an automated tool to help you build the sitemap. If control is what you are looking for, you can always edit the automatically generated sitemap to suit your taste.

There are number of tools on the Web that help you automatically build your website's sitemap. Google has its own tool, a Python script called Google Sitemap Generator. The major drawback of using this tool is that you have to set it up on the server where your website is running and execute it there. Also, the tool requires Python 2.2 to be installed on the server. This may not be your setup, and in some cases you just might not want to jump through those hoops. This is where alternate sitemap generators come into play. Most of the free sitemap generators I came across are Web-based, which means no installation!

Of the few Web-based sitemap generators I tested, I liked Xml-Sitemaps.com the most. This free and simple-to-use Web-based service guides novice users well through the process of generating, setting up, and submitting their sitemap. This is a great option, especially if you have a static website. If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla you are better off using the sitemap generator tool provided by these projects' communities. For WordPress users, Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress might be a good choice as well.

When you have picked a plugin or a Web-based service to generate your sitemap, follow the steps outlined on your tool of choice to generate the sitemap. For a Web service, this usually involves entering the complete URL of your website. When generated your sitemap should be available for download as an XML file and/or a zipped file.

Sitemap's Ready, Now What?

So, your sitemap is ready and the next thing you need to do is to upload it to the root directory of your website. If you are using a plugin-based sitemap generator for your CMS, these steps may not apply in the same way and in some cases might not even be required. Follow these steps if you have a static website. What you need to do is upload the sitemap.xml file to the root directory of your website so that it is accessible as www.example.com/sitemap.xml. When you have uploaded the XML file, you can edit your robots.txt to include the sitemap URL. A robots.txt file tells search engine spiders what they should not crawl. A sitemap tells them which pages they should crawl. Together they compose a detailed note of recommendations you can leave for search engines.

Submit Sitemap to Google

The last step for setting up your website's sitemap is to submit the sitemap to Google. This is not a necessary step if you have configured your robots.txt correctly. However, there is no harm in submitting it anyway. Create an account for your website at Google Webmaster (you will need a Google account) and enter in the URL to your Google sitemap and click Submit URL. And that's it!

Original: May 26, 2010