Create a Google Sitemap
By: Robin Eldred
One of the hot new website promotion tips du jour is the Google Sitemap. This is a small XML file that sits on a website and provides information for Googlebot when it comes to visit. Is this file useful? What does it do? How do I create one? How do I get Google to find it? Well, let me tell you.
Firstly, the general consensus on whether or not a Google Sitemap is useful is that, well, the jury is still out. The official stance from Google is that this entire program is in Beta so there are no promises or guarantees. Perhaps by understanding what this file is for we can infer its usefulness.
A Google Sitemap is, essentially, an XML file that contains information on all the web pages in your site. You create this file, submit it to Google, and Google will read it. What Google does from there nobody really knows. You can specify certain parameters in the file such as the location (URL) of your web pages, when they were last modified, how often the pages are updated, and what each page’s “priority” is.
Perhaps Google is relegating these Sitemap submitted results to a secondary index where they compare the results to their live index. This might let them know how people use (and abuse) the program. It is my opinion that the vast majority of participants in this program are website designers and marketers who are trying to give their clients a teenie-weenie leg up on the competition within Google. That’s not to say that there isn’t any value, though.
It is possible that by telling Google where all of your web pages are you can improve your web page saturation in their index. This may indirectly improve your rankings by getting an unlinked or deeply linked page into the index that wasn’t previously there. But as I mentioned earlier, it’s difficult to know if Google is even using Sitemap information in their live index.
So now that you’ve decided that you want to create and submit a Sitemap of your own, here’s how:
- Firstly, you need to create your XML file. Don’t bother doing it yourself. There is an excellent free online utility at www.sitemapbuilder.net.
- You must now submit the Sitemap to Google. Visit
www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/login and login with your Google account. Don’t have one? Don’t worry – that’s free, too. Once you’ve logged in you can add as many Sitemaps as you like.
- Don’t forget – whenever you update your website (by adding, removing or relocating web pages) be sure to repeat this process. You won’t need to resubmit your sitemap to Google, though.
Google is also touting their Mobile Sitemap program. This one, I believe, may be of greater significance. I believe that Google is building an index of mobile-phone friendly websites (Mobile Web Search Beta) and they are using these new Mobile Sitemaps as a way to get the public to help them seed the initial directory. The mobile web is in its infancy right now, so it wouldn’t surprise me if creating a Mobile Sitemap gave mobile sites a significant leg up. But again; no guarantees here – just opinion.
Happy Sitemapping everyone!
Robin Eldred is the president of Apis Design, a Web Design and Promotion company located in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Apis specializes in building and promoting eye-catching, user-focused websites that work.
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