Much like printed books with their index pages, websites too require an searchable index of content pages and there is no better tool than including an XML formatted sitemap on your website.
What is a Sitemap?
Sitemaps are an easy way for viewers of your website to grab a quick snapshot of the pages contained within your site. Think of it as your website Index of pages. It’s also an invaluable way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling.
A time for discovery
Web crawlers commonly known as ‘spiders’ usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Use of Sitemaps does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.
Where do I start?
The easiest way to create a Sitemap is a simple HTML document thats lists all the pages contained within the site or at least the major category pages if you have large site. Obviously the list of pages are hyperlinked to the relevent page within the site, therefore making it easier for yoru viewers to navigate your site.
Tip: Add a brief description of the page content after the linked text to help your viewers, for example rather than listing your About Us page as;
Company Profile Information – A complete introduction to our company and it’s employees
OK, where to now…
Ok so you have created your HTML Sitemap with links to all pages within your site…that’s great, your viewers will appreciate all the assistance they can get, but what about the search engines? Well fear not there is also a facility to upload your Sitemap information to Google, Yahoo etc for them to crawl your site and it’s by creating an XML Sitemap.
The easiest form of XML Sitemap creator tools around has to be XML-Sitemaps.com they offer a free XML and HTML creator tool that crawls your site and outputs a XML file ready for inclusion to Google etc. To access simply click here.