What and Why Series - Sitemaps

on Monday, April 6, 2009
Sitemaps are very important from an SEO point of view. Through Sitemaps, you can easily inform the search engines how many pages are there on your site, what is the frequency of changes you make and prioritize them. For example, you can tell the search engines that there are X pages in your website which are updated once in a month. You can also inform the engines that the index page of your site is more impartant for a visitor than the contact us page.

Thus, an XML sitemap is a list of pages on your site which contents the relevant details about each page. This ultimately helps the search engines to index or crawl your site better.

Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:

  • Your site is updated frequently.
  • Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process - for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or Flash.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it.
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.
How to create a Sitemap?
There are some great available online for free, through which you can generate quality sitemaps. However, I particularly like the tool we have on XML-Sitemaps.com. This is an excellent tool which allows you to create a sitemap exactly as you want.

How do I submit a Sitemap?
For submiting a Sitemap in Google, you must first get your site verified through Google Webmaster Center (Which is, by the way, even easier, just try it yourself ;) ). Once you have created an XML file using a tool, you need to upload the XML file into your web server and call it "sitemap". Then, you can simply login to your Google Webmaster Account and submit the URL of your xml sitemap, which ideally should be www.name.com/sitemap.xml. That's it! Your site would be crawled by the search engines within a week.