One of the important things that all webmasters must do once they launch a new website/blog or even add new pages/posts, is create a sitemap for their blog/website and submit it to online directories so that search engines can faster and better index their site/blog.
Don’t rely on search engines visiting your site and crawling it on their own, create your sitemap and submit it to any directories you find and to all major search engines such as Google!
What Is A Sitemap?
A Sitemap is a page on your website that contains links to all other pages/posts found on your site. When a search engine bot (such as Google Bot) visits your website, it tries to crawl all the pages on your website through the links you have on there so that it can index your pages into its database, that way when people perform a search on something related to your post/page if your website is indexed, it will show up in the search results.
The problem is that search engines are not humans, so they might sometimes run into trouble when crawling your pages if for example:
- Your pages aren’t properly linked.
- You have pages created using Flash or Ajax.
- Your pages are poorly linked to each other or contains no links to other pages.
Therefore providing a sitemap containing your links is very useful to search engines and helps in indexing your pages faster and more accurately since sometimes a sitemap can contain meta data about your links that explain to search engines how important is that link compared to your other pages by showing how often the page with that link gets updated.
Sitemaps can be submitted as text files but the preferred file type by search engines (such as Google) is XML format.
Do I Have To Use A Sitemap?
Well, you don’t really have to, but it is always better to make it easy on search engines to crawl your pages by using a sitemap and listing to them the exact links your website contains.
It also depends on the type of pages you use on your website, for example if you use the normal html/php pages then in this case it is up to you whether to use a sitemap or not, but if you create a website using flash, or if you have a flash menu for example, then it will be very difficult for search engines to index your pages without the help of a sitemap.
A Sitemap’s main function is to make your pages/posts easily searchable by providing information about each page linked to search engines so that they can better discover and understand the importance of each page on your website.
How Do I Create A Sitemap?
Create A Sitemap For A Static Site
There are 2 ways you can use to create a sitemap, you can either:
- Create a sitemap manually.
- Create a sitemap using a free an online generator.
a) Creating a Sitemap Manually:
You need to follow the proper coding structure in creating a sitemap.
The following is a basic layout for a sitemap that you can use, just make sure to follow the same structure and add more pages between the <url> and <loc> tags such as below:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9 http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd"> <url> <loc>http://www.YOUR-SITE.com/</loc> </url> <url> <loc>http://www.YOUR-SITE.com/index.html/</loc> </url> <url> <loc>http://www.YOUR-SITE.com/ANOTHER-PAGE.php/</loc> </url> </urlset>
b) Creating a Sitemap Via Online Generators:
This is my favorite method due to its simplicity and speed, all you have to do is enter the root domain of your website or blog into one of these services and in a few minutes (depending on how many pages your site contains) it will release a sitemap file for you with a XML extension.
The websites I use to generate my XML Sitemaps are:
I usually use the first one because it’s a little faster, and also contains lots of options on what format you want your file to be produced with, however both work just fine.
Create A Sitemap For A Blog
The best plugin for this job is Google XML Sitemaps
This plugin not only automatically generates a sitemap for your blog, but whenever you update your blog, it updates your sitemap and notifies search engines such as Google, Bing, etc…Check out the screenshot below!
This plugin contains tons of other features regarding sitemaps, I urge you to download it and give it a try, it’s completely free and its one of the best plugins for creating a sitemap.
If you have any suggestions or tips regarding sitemaps or just wanna say hello, please feel free to comment below, if you need help configuring your sitemap don’t hesitate to let me know.