It’s proven time and time again that the Big G owns half of the search engine pie so it make sense that when you’re building a new site to do everything you can to keep Google happy. But most site owners and webmasters pay little attention on the site’s architecture. They fail to build a simplified Sitemap that makes sense to Google and to human visitors. I’ve put together some information that will give you the basics of a sitemap and how search engines make use of it to understand your website’s service landscape and content and how it all fits together.
What is a Sitemap?
Sitemaps are simply “maps” that tell search engines about the pages contained in your site and to make it easy for them to crawl or index your site. While search engine spiders automatically index or “read” everything that’s in your site, there are some sections that just can’t be read. With that, make the effort to tell the search engines that these pages exist in your site, this can be done by building links to all these pages but this is unpractical so the easiest way of doing this is to send Google your site map.
Sitemaps can be sent to Google and other search engines in the form of XML file. Any programmer or website developer can create a sitemap for you although a lot of people now rely on plugins that automatically generate their sitemaps. The content of the sitemap must include details such as the URL’s present in your site, metadata, and information about the relevance and importance of each URL with respect to other URL’s in the domain.
While a Sitemap is part of the answer to making your site perform to the fullest online, it’s not the answer to everything and does not guarantee your site will be fully indexed once you have submitted it to the search engines. However, sending a Sitemap increases the chances that the spider will index deeper pages the next time it visits. Search engines aren’t perfect but their regular logarithmic update strives to index the web as a whole and return the best answers possible for any given search term.
Acceptable Sitemap Formats
As already stated, the recommended format for Sitemap is XML. Google recommends that you create a Sitemap based on what is proposed in the Sitemap protocol because the same file can be submitted to other search engines which will allow the different spiders easily index your site.
If you don’t feel like using the above method, you can either submit feeds from RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0. Find software that will let you produce the feed automatically, but realize that the feeds may only produce the recent pages or URLs for your site. Text files are also acceptable but make certain that the file utilizes UTF-8 encoding and contain pure URLs and a .txt extension. This Google Webmaster article shows how your Sitemap should begin and end. The Bullet points are the key elements that you need to build your Sitemap around.
Remember that you can only submit your Sitemap to Google through their Webmaster Tools for a site that’s already added under the Tool’s area.
For better site performance, every single page on your site should be submitted to the search engines. And the only way to do this is to “tell” them what your site is all about a Sitemap. Sitemaps can be made by either following the guidelines set in Sitemap protocol or through the easy-to-prepare RSS feeds or text files. Software to help build your Sitemap is free and easy to use, with the click of a button and a little patience these programs can generate a full Sitemap with no interference needed from you.