Webmaster tips » SEO

Oct 22, 2008
Paul Coulter

Benefits Of Having A Sitemap

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A website's ranking with the search engines is one of the most important elements of business success. It is important to get your pages indexed so that you can show up in the results of searches done using the search engines.

Indexing is a process by which search engines, such as Google, send their robots to process and categorize the pages on your website. Some search engines might find it difficult to find all of your pages, especially the pages that are deeply buried.

There are some things you can do to help the search engines find all of your pages. These techniques will also help the people who visit your site to find the pages and move through your website with ease. These tips are primarily for Google, because of Google's present dominance over the Internet search industry. Google has the potential to bring more visitors to your site than all of the other popular directories and search engines, such as Yahoo and MSN, put together.

Indexing Depth

The number of visits that Google's robot will make to your site pages is determined by how often your site is updated. If you update your site every day, Google will most likely visit your site everyday. The depth of the indexing done by Google depends on the layering of levels of your site's tree. Your homepage will be considered a first level page. Any page that is linked to from your homepage will be considered a part of the second level. Any pages that are linked to from these second level pages, but not from the homepage, are considered third level pages.

The depth that Google will travel while indexing your pages will depend on the page ranking of each page. The indexing will follow a pattern. For example, if your homepage has a ranking of at least one then your second level pages will get indexed. If the second level pages do not have a good ranking then your third level pages and any pages at a level beyond that will not be indexed. Google will not index these extended page levels.

Sitemaps

A sitemap is simply a list of your pages in a single page layout. When a visitor goes to your site they can access the sitemap to find any pages that they are interested in viewing. Usually the sitemap is to benefit the people who visit your site and give them a quick and easy way to navigate your site.

A sitemap has a benefit for the search engines as well. This sitemap will let the Google robot see how pages, such as those in the fourth and fifth level, fit into your site. If you link to your sitemap page from your homepage, all of the pages listed in your sitemap will be no farther from your home page than the third level. This will encourage Google to index your entire site.

The New Sitemap

The Google sitemap is a new type of sitemap that you can use on your website. This sitemap works a little bit differently than traditional sitemaps. The Google sitemap is a file that is on your site's server that shows all of the pages on your website and their attributes. This will allow Google to read the file and know about all of the pages on your website. Not only can you list all of the pages on your website, but you can specify how much each page is updated and what the index priorities are for each page.

So How Does the New Sitemap Work

The Google sitemap must be created in XML (Extensible Markup Language). XML is structurally similar to HTML. You may recognize XML if you have used blog feeds or RSS. An example of an entry written for each page in a website would look something like this:

<url>

<loc>http://www.yoursiteurl.com </loc>

<lastmod>2007-05-18</lastmod>

<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

<priority>0.8</priority>

</url>

Let's look at each tag. The "url" tag specifies you are including new information for a new URL (a page on your site) and you specify this URL by enclosing it between <loc></loc> tags. The "lastmod" tag indicates the date the page was most recently updated. the "changefreq“ tag indicates how often the page is updated, and the ”priority" tag indicates the relative priority for indexing the page.

Some Tools to Use

A Google sitemap is a wonderful way to let Google know about all the pages on your website. One thing that is difficult about the sitemap is that you must edit it in a text editor such as notepad every time you make a change to your site. If you make regular changes, you will find that this is very cumbersome. You can do a search for a free Google sitemap generator to help automate sitemap creation.

While Google does not claim that the use of the Google sitemap will give you a better ranking, it does improve the chances of your whole site being indexed. Google may then determine that your website is larger and therefore more important. As a result, your site should receive an increase in traffic. Whenever you make changes to your website you should remember to update the sitemap too. If you keep both types of sitemaps on your website regularly updated, your site will be better indexed and easier for visitors to navigate.

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About The Author
Paul Coulter is an Internet marketing professional who specializes in Web Design. For more information, or to inquire about his services, please visit: http://www.torontodesignwebsite.com
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