www.web-design.co.za | anything to do with web design, particularly in South Africa

XML Sitemaps

What do Google, Yahoo & Microsoft have in common?
…They all advocate the use of sitemaps. All three companies jointly maintain the website “sitemaps.org”

So what are sitemaps?

Well theres the usual HTML sitemap, which is a section of a website, listing all the other pages. Basically, it’s an entire page or series of pages dedicated to a navigation system. The navigation system of a very large website can get overwhelming, so an HTML sitemap is primarily used to let your visitors and users know about all your pages.

The problem, search engines face is that some websites use JavaScript & DHTML menus that search engines can’t follow. That’s why most of these kinds of sites only have their home page featuring in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages), leaving all the other pages by the way side. This is where XML sitemaps come into play. Google has long been advocating the use of standard robot friendly sitemap, and now with the new sitemaps.org initiative, it looks like Yahoo may be going in that direction too.

The XML sitemap has an obvious benefit of telling search engines about all the pages on your site that they may not know about. Additionally, you can specify which pages of your site are most important to you, by use of a 1 to 10 importance ratio, and you can specify how often each page is updated, thus helping search engines know how often they should crawl your site for new info.

Here’s how to use an XML sitemap

  1. First make an xml sitemap, either manually or you can download a free program that does it for you (see my program recommendation under further reading)
  2. sign up for a free google account, here
  3. Under the google webmaster tools, you can add your URL and then follow the instructions to submit your XML sitemap

Further Reading

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