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by Gary

Not long ago Google launched a beta service enabling web site owners / developers to create and submit a sitemap. The aim of this is to assist Google / Googlebot with the indexing of every page in your web site, using a standard XML format that lists every URL.

Popular reaction was undoubtedly to embrace this opportunity and start creating sitemaps straight away. Call me simple if you like, but when I started reading Google’s instructions I found it very confusing and very daunting. I consider myself to be highly competent in (x)HTML, JavaScript, and CSS, but like many have had no exposure to XML format. The link to the Sitemap Generator looked promising (I was hoping for “Sitemaps for Dummies”) only to find that you need to have / understand Python to use it. It all looked too hard when I first saw it, so I shelved the idea for another day.

Upon revisiting the Google site map concept later, I noticed a range of free sitemap generators online that will create your sitemap in the correct format for you to then download. This sounded promising, but what I found was a challenging user interface and only partially completed results. However after analysing the output it occurred to me just how simple the ‘manual’ creation of a sitemap really is, and how unnecessarily complex the other advice had been.

To share what I have learnt:

  • A sitemap is nothing more than a text file with a .xml extension;
  • A document header (“schema”) not unlike a web page DTD is copied to the top of the page, which identifies it as a Google site map;
  • Tags similar to HTML are used to identify URLs as well as other details such as date the page was last modified, change frequency (how often the page is likely to change), and a priority order for your pages;
  • You upload the file to the root level of your host / server, and then submit that URL to Google.

Here is an example of a sitemap that you could simply copy / paste / modify:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap/0.84"
xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap/0.84
http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap/0.84/sitemap.xsd">
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.garybadger.com/</loc>
      <lastmod>2005-09-10</lastmod>
      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
      <priority>1.0</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.garybadger.com/about.html</loc>
      <lastmod>2005-09-10</lastmod>
      <changefreq>yearly</changefreq>
      <priority>0.8</priority>
  </url>
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.garybadger.com/contact.html</loc>
      <lastmod>2005-09-10</lastmod>
      <changefreq>never</changefreq>
      <priority>0.5</priority>
  </url>
  </urlset>

To create your own site map simply copy / paste the above code into your text file and save with a .xml extension. Then modify the URL and other data to suit your own site. The lastmod, changefreq, and priority lines are optional and may be omitted if you like, and to list more pages simply replicate everything you see between (and including) the <url> and </url> tags and edit to suit.

Once you have saved your sitemap simply upload it to the root level of your server. Being a text file you should upload in ASCII format, not binary. Then submit the sitemap URL (http://www.garybadger.com/sitemap.xml in my case) to Google. You do this from Google’s My Sitemaps page.








2 Responses to “Google Sitemaps: “How To””

  1. Vladimir Luchaninov Says:

    If it seems complicated try to use WinSitemap. You can make Google Sitemap using visual Windows interface.
    Do it right now (it’s freeware) – http://www.winsitemap.com

  2. Tom Says:

    You can also try http://a1-sitemap-generator.com …not much fun creating sitemaps manually if you ask me 🙂

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