Why You Need Sitemap And How To Create Them?

The term ‘sitemap’ refer to two different things and they are HTML Sitemap and XML Sitemap.

HTML Sitemap

This sitemaps are very helpful for users to easily navigate through your website, especially if your website is large and complex, providing details of your entire website contents. Users can easily find information in your website without having to navigate through your website page by page. Though it is not crucial to have HTML Sitemap for your website, but it will really help users a lot.

XML Sitemap

Search engines use XML Sitemaps to crawl through your website to know about the pages within your website. It helps search engines to crawl faster, efficiently and accurately. Though it still crawled without XML Sitemaps, but if you have a large and complex websites, it’s difficult for search engines to keep track of all the data in the website sometimes skipping information as they crawl through the rapidly changing pages.

Why do you need sitemaps?

This refers to XML Sitemaps which is important to the success of your websites in search engines. XML Sitemaps allow search engines to crawl accurately through your websites collecting data about your websites to determine the page rank of your sites, as we all know that the higher your page ranking the more quality visitors will go to your websites.

Given that there are millions of websites that search engines need to plough through, XML Sitemaps will help search engines to provide with information about your website in one place quite handy for search engines to easily track all the URLs in your websites and optimize their searches.

There are good reasons why you need it and give you the advantage of having XML Sitemaps.

1.If your site uses rich Ajax or Flash, without XML Sitemaps the search engines will not be able to follow these links.

2. XML Sitemap tells the search engines which one of your pages in your website is more important, and prevents the less important pages from competing with your own pages in the listings.

3. XML Sitemap tells the search engines which pages on your site are updated more frequently, this enables the search engines to ignore your static pages and give the possibility that they will have the most current data from your website. It will also tell when you have added or updated your site's content, to have a tendency for users to find your new pages more quickly.

The good news about XML Sitemaps is that it officially supports by most major search engines such as Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask. Webmasters will no longer need to create different types of sitemaps for different search engines.

How to create XML Sitemaps?

This can be easily done by searching for ‘sitemap generators’ in search engines and you may find some websites provide free online sitemap generator for up to 500 pages. But if you have more than 500 pages there are sites that offer scripts to place in your server and have full control of your sitemaps generation. Furthermore these sitemaps generator sites will even generate HTML Sitemaps for your websites which you can place with your main websites for your users.

Once you have created your sitemaps you need to submit to search engines and this is how it is done.

1. Download the file with the xml extension or file named ‘sitemap.xml’, to your computer.

2. Upload the file to your server alongside the ‘index.html’ directory.

3. Notify the search engines by submitting the URL of the sitemap.

-- Google: go to http://www.google.com/webmasters

-- Yahoo: go to http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com

-- MSN: go to http://webmaster.live.com

-- Ask: key in the link to the browser – http://submissions.ask.com/ping?sitemap=http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml

-- All the above need to have an account with the respective search engines in order to use the facilities. Except for Ask, they no longer provide this service because it automatically crawl your websites from the internet. But you can still submit your sitemaps by keying the URL given above in your browser.

4. If you make any changes to your websites, you need to recreate a new sitemap and repeat the above 3 steps so that the search engines know about it and it will crawl again for updated information.

Author: Matt Kasmani