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Using Sitemaps to Increase You Web Site’s SEO

HTML & XML Sitemaps

A sitemap provides text links of each page of a website to both humans and search engines.  They can be very helpful for search engines to understand what your site is about, especially if your main navigation is embedded in images, uses javascript, or Flash.  They are also very helpful for visitors to your site to help them quickly find the information  they are seeking.

There are two different types of site maps: xml and html sitemaps.  In 2005, Google introduced the xml sitemap.  This page serves the search engines and is a list of all of the site’s pages.

How do you create a xml sitemap?  If your site is built on a WordPress platform, there are several plugins you can use that will create sitemaps for you.  If you need to create the sitemap yourself, checkout xml-sitemaps.com, a free sitemap generator tool.

There are different types of xml sitemaps you can create, depending on your site and the type of content it contains:

  • Basic web pages
  • Image sitemaps
  • Video sitemaps
  • News sitemaps

Add the Sitemap Info to Your Robots.txt File

It’s a good idea to reference your sitemap in your robots.txt file (typically located in your site’s root folder) by adding the following code:

Sitemap: http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml

Submit the Sitemap to Google

Go to Google Webmaster Central at http://www.google.com/webmasters.  If you don’t have a Google account, create one.  If you do, login and click on “Add a site”, and enter the URL of your web site.

google-webmaster-tools

Google will ask you to verify you are the owner of the site.  You can do this by uploading a file Google provides to the root of your site, where your home page resides.  Once the site has been uploaded, click on “Verify”.

Submit a Sitemap to Google Webmaster ToolsOnce verified, click on the website you just added and choose “Sitemaps” > “Submit a Sitemap” button.  Enter in the sitemap.xml file name.

It will take a few days to update all of the web site’s info.  Check back and Google will provide you with all sorts of useful details about yours site.  You’ll be able to see the number of pages Google has indexed, monitor the health of your site by viewing “crawl” stats and errors, blocked URLs, and more.

 

Submit the Sitemap to Bing

To submit your website’s sitemap to Bing, go to http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster/.  Create a free account and login. Add your site’s url to the “Add a Site” box and click on “Add”.

Submit the Site to Bing

Enter in the “About My Website” info, including the sitemap’s url, the “About Me” details, and “Contact Preference” info.

Submit a Sitemap to Bing

Click on “Save”.  You will need to verify you are the owner of the site again by adding a meta tag to your home page’s source code.  Once you have added this code,  click on “Verify”.  Just like Google, Bing will provide you with useful tools, such as the number of indexed pages, inbound links, an SEO Analyzer and SEO Reports, and more.

Adding a sitemap to your website and submitting it to Google and Bing is a great way to ensure your site’s pages are being indexed and found.

Related posts:

Keyword Research: Using the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to Identify the Best Keywords
How Your Web Site’s Navigation Helps with SEO
How to Increase Your Web Site’s Inbound Links

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