Sitemaps: The Who, What, When, Where and Why

Author: Jack Martin

This post may be a bit overwhelming… I’ll do my best to simplify.

Who is this post written for?

Anyone who is interested in ranking well within the search engines and has a basic understanding of how the internet works.

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a listing of the pages on your website. It is used by crawlers (search engine spiders) and site users to easily navigate through your site. Not only does the sitemap list the pages on your site, it informs search engine spiders how often the content on those pages changes and also identifies which pages you feel are more important.

When should I add the sitemap to my website?

Your sitemap should be added to your site and then submitted to the search engines when the website is complete. No point in submitting pages that are not complete or will drive to a “Page Under Construction” notification.

Where should the sitemap be located?

According to Sitemap Protocol, it is strongly recommended that you place your Sitemap at the root directory of your HTML server; that is, place it at example.com/sitemap.xml.

Why do I need a sitemap?

Webcrawlers find more pages and websites to crawl through links. Posting your links in one central location that is universally known as your “sitemap” will simplify the “crawling” process for the search engine spiders.

How do I submit my sitemaps to the major search engines?

Before submitting your Sitemap to the major search engines, make sure that your Sitemap is created per Sitemap Protocol as found at sitemaps.org. Once your sitemap is created, focus initially on the three major search engines and then move onto the many other searching tools available on the web. GOOGLE.com – Google offers a handful of tools and resources to assist with your site rankings. First step is to set-up a Google account and sign-up your website with Webmaster Tools. These tools will crawl your site and confirm the status of your links. You can also submit your Sitemap here. A quick overview on submitting to Google. YAHOO.com – Yahoo! offers a quick overview on how they support sitemaps. Read the overview, and then submit your Sitemap to Yahoo! BING.com – Bing, MSN’s new search engine, also has a resource area specific for Webmaster Tools. The instructions to submit your Sitemap to Bing are fairly simple.

To submit an XML-based Sitemap to Bing:

Copy and paste the entire URL below as a single URL into the address bar of your browser: http://www.bing.com/webmaster/ping.aspx?sitemap=www.YourWebAddress.com/s…
Change “www.YourWebAddress.com” to your domain name
Press ENTER

Any other search engines you use that we should mention how to submit to them? Let us know or comment on it and we will add it to this post.

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