Friday, October 21, 2005

Google sitemap: Get more of your site indexed faster

So, you have been hearing a lot about Google sitemap lately. What exactly is Google sitemap and how can it help you?

According to Google, “Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to help improve your coverage in the Google index”

By placing a Sitemap-formatted file on your web server, you inform Google’s crawlers what pages are present in your site and which have recently changed. Google then uses the Sitemap to add your pages to its search index.

Generating SiteMap file

A Sitemap-formatted file is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. You can also provide specific information about all the pages, like the time a page was last modified, how frequently the page is likely to be changed, and the priority of the page relative to other pages of your site.

If your site is a simple site, you can create the sitemap file on your own. For a large and dynamic site, Google provides a sitemap generator to generate a sitemap file from a list of URLs, from your access logs, or by pointing to a directory path hosting static files corresponding to URLs.

To enroll your site in the program, just upload the sitemap file to your server and inform Google of the file location. Google will then download it and takes care of the rest. Sweet!

Site Statistics

Another reason we love Google Sitemaps is that it shows you the results of its crawl (Google calls it ‘site statistics’). Google shows you URLs that were either listed in your Sitemap or that Google found through its regular crawl process that it was unable to crawl and information about why it couldn't crawl them.

Is Google sitemap for everyone?

Well, we recommend Google sitemap for new sites that have trouble getting indexed by Google, and for sites that have some pages buried deep in the site that have not been indexed by Google.

Parting Thoughts

Google states that using a Sitemap feed doesn't automatically mean better listings in the organic search engine results pages. Your pages will still be subject to the same ranking algorithms as sites that don't use a Sitemap feed. Also, there is no need to use Google sitemap if all the pages of your site within two clicks from the homepage and Google already indexed all the pages of your site.

The advantages for the webmaster include getting more of your hard-to-crawl pages listed in Google's index than a site that doesn't use the Sitemap protocol. Sometimes that's all that's standing between you and your competition!

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