10 Minutes to Your Google Sitemap
Copyright 2005 Ron Hutton
Google's calling your name
Hi, Google here. We want to index your website...
Is anyone there?
This article has a free corresponding online video tutorial that shows you how to summons the magic Googlebot to spider and index every page on your website, and it will only take about 10 minutes of your time.Go here now to watch exactly what to do, step-by-easy-step.
What you have access to with the new Google Sitemaps program is truly a gift from the Google gods. They've offering you a tool that you can use to keep your site constantly indexed and updated in the search engine database. With Google Sitemaps, webmasters can now take charge and make sure that their entire site is crawled and indexed.
One important note to make is that the Google Sitemaps program will not necessarily improve the ranking of your site's pages. It only ensures that Google knows what you've got online for them to look at.
Before reading the following statement, promise yourself that you won't stop reading if you see a term that seems a little scary. OK? Promise? Good. Go ahead and keep reading then.
The format specified by Google for "their" sitemap is XML (extensible markup language). Did I loose you yet? No? Good again.
You do not need to understand how to code XML to participate in the Google Sitemap program. There are plenty of free online tools that will create your XML sitemap for you with no XML knowledge required on your part. More on this in a second.
What information is including in this XML sitemap?
- The URL for every file on your website.
- A relative priority rank that you can assign telling Google which pages on your site are most important for them to look at.
- The date last modified for each page.
- Anticipated change frequency per URL. This again is a variable that you control.
According to Google, your XML sitemap can include up to 50,000 URL's. If your site is a real monster and has in excess of 50,000 URL's, then you'll need to create a hierarchy of sitemaps with one leading to the next. This way you'll be able to lead Google to all of your pages.
The options for generating and maintaining your Google Sitemap range from complex systems that are highly automated to very simple systems using online sitemap generators that require nothing more than clicking a few buttons.
Google now keeps a list of these 'third party suppliers' of generators on their site. Find them here.
In a nutshell, here are the steps involved with using online generators:
- Start the program.
- Enter your site's URL.
- Click the "Start Crawling" button.
- Customize URL priorities and change frequencies.
- Save the site map to your local hard drive.
- Upload your new Google XML sitemap to your website in the root directory (where your home page resides).
- Validate your new sitemap. (Can validate it here.)
- Submit your XML sitemap to Google.
You can access the pages for the Google Sitemap program here:
8 steps in about 10 minutes. That's all there is to it.
One question that you might ask is whether or not you still need an HTML sitemap, and the answer is "Yes, you still need your conventional sitemap". XML sitemaps are not intended for human visitors. To see what I mean, take a look at the two following sitemaps:
Which version do you prefer? Your visitors will like the HTML and Google prefers XML.
When you add pages or new content to your site and you want Google to go back to have a fresh look, just log in to your Google Sitemaps control panel, select the sitemap to revisit, and click "Resubmit". It's never been easier to get Google to spider and index a website. Don't miss your opportunity to use this tool to your advantage.