An XML sitemap is a document that helps Google and other major search engines better understand your website while crawling it.
What is a sitemap and why is it important?
Sitemaps are a protocol that allows the webmaster for a website to inform Google and other major search engines about URLS on a website that are available for crawling. Sitemaps allow search engines to find all of your webpages, that they might otherwise miss when indexing. The XML sitemap allows you to specify additional information about each URL such as:
- When it was last updated
- How often the site changes
- How important the page is in relation to other pages on the site
Having this information within one document helps search engines understand your website and crawl it more intelligently. Sitemaps are an inclusion protocol, where Robots.txt files are exclusionary. For more information on robots.txt files please read our article.
How do I generate a XML sitemap?
Generating a XML sitemap for you website is a simple process, and there are many websites that can help you do so. Google recommends using http://xml-sitemaps.com
Start by visiting the link above in your web browser. On the home page of the website you can follow the 4 easy steps they have listed there.
In the third step on the webpage, you’ll be downloading the text file from the website to your local computer. Once the file is downloaded to your local computer you’ll then need to upload it to your document root of your domain. If you’re unfamiliar with uploading files using manager, please read our article.Â
Understanding Search Engines and Sitemaps
You do not upload your sitemap to the search engines. After you have uploaded the sitemap to the server, you simply have to submit the full URL to your sitemap. After you have submitted the sitemaps to the major search engines, the next time they crawl the website they will have a better understanding of how your website works.
- Google: You will need to use your Webmaster Tools account to let Google know the full URL to your sitemap.
- Bing: Bing uses Windows Live accounts under the Webmaster Center section to specify sitemaps.
- Yahoo: You will need to sign in to Yahoo! and insert the url in the ‘Submit Site feed field’
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