Improve your Search Engine Position with Sitemaps
A sitemap is a little-known secret to enhancing your Web site's position in the search engine listings. No, it's not a killer secret that will draw in thousands of new visitors overnight, but it is an important addition to your toolset, and not hard to implement. This article will tell you why you need a sitemap, and how to create one and submit it to the search engines.
The term "sitemap" can refer to two different things. Many large, complex Web sites provide a visual sitemap that visitors can use for quick navigation, if they already know roughly where they want to go. If your site is large or complex, you should provide one of these sitemaps for your visitors.
But this article is about the other kind of sitemap: The kind that is made for the search engines, like Google, to use in indexing your site. There are several forms that these sitemaps can take, but we'll get to that a little later.
First of all, let's consider why you even need a sitemap. Google and the other search engines will index your site even if you don't have a sitemap. However, there are four main advantages to having a sitemap:
So, what is a sitemap?
As mentioned above, there are many possible forms of sitemaps, but we'll concentrate on the most useful kind, the XML sitemap format created and promulgated by sitemaps.org. This protocol, currently known as "Sitemap 0.90," is maintained and endorsed jointly by Google, MSN, Yahoo, and Ask, so you know it is pretty much a universal standard.
An XML sitemap consists of a list of pages on your Web site, and standard information about each page. Here is an example:
http://www.freelancesubmit.com/Index.htm 2008-04-07 never 0.3
... http://www.freelancesubmit.com/Services.htm 2008-04-07 weekly 0.8
Don't worry about the technical details of formatting the XML. We'll talk about tools that will create this for you in a moment.
There are three things to notice about each entry:
In assigning a value for "Priority," on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0, determine which pages are most important and which are least important within your site. We're not telling the search engines that this "Services" page is in the 80th percentile of all pages on the Web, but it is far more important than the "Index" page within this site. That's where we want our visitors to end up.
It's easy to identify pages within your site which are lowest priority. Some examples:
So, how do you create a sitemap?
There are a number of software tools that will create a sitemap by reading your site's content. You will have to adjust the results, especially the "Priority" settings, but most of these do a pretty good job. Search the Web for "sitemap generator," or for any of the following specific free tools:
And once you have your sitemap, what do you do with it?
There are three things to do, in sequence:
Once you have your sitemap created and submitted, don't forget to maintain it. Each time you add a page to your Web site, add it to your sitemap. Each time you update a page on your Web site, update its "lastmod" setting in your sitemap. Try adjusting the "priority" of your pages from time to time to see if it improves the performance of that particular page. And each time you modify your sitemap, resubmit it to the major search engines.
Source: Free Articles from ArticlesFactory.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charles J. Bonner is the founder and principal project manager of www.FreeLanceSubmit.com. For a complete list of resources for creating and using sitemaps, visit http://www.FreeLanceSubmit.com/ArticleBuildASitemap.htm. Find out more about promoting your Web site, especially using Article Marketing, at http://www.FreeLanceSubmit.com/.