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So you want a Sitemap...

Posted on 1.10.2006
The nature of sitemaps is to give users (website visitors) access to all the different areas of your website on one easily accessible page in an organized fashion. If you do not have a sitemap then you should most certainly create one as it helps to improve the overall visibility of your URLs in search indices. Since it is obvious that fast, proper indexing of your pages is essential, failure to create sitemaps often results in slower indexing of new pages you have added to your site - and no one wants that, right? Google, certainly the most competitive marketplace for the search engine optimization community, provides their Google Sitemaps feature to help webmasters/website owners communicate page updates and additions.

Google Sitemaps provides more thorough crawl coverage and fresher search results to help people find more of your web pages. It's also a "smarter crawl" as it allows search marketers to tell Google when a page was last modified (how frequently it changes) and its importance in your site. If that were not enough to motivate you to create a Google Sitemap immediately, they are also featuring some very detailed reports:

- Query and query click stats (under what keywords Google returns pages from your site and the top search query clicks on your site)
- Crawl stats (whether pages were crawled successfully) as well as any HTTP errors, unreachable URLs and the PageRank of pages in Google distribution
- Easy access to advanced search techniques to determine the number of indexed pages, the pages that refer to your URL, the pages that link to your URL and the current cached page.

So if you simply cannot figure out how to upload your sitemap to Google there are some very nice tools that Google recommends. I tried a product from yesterday and I have to say it was pretty easy. I am still waiting to have my sitemap verified by Google, but the process of building the sitemap was painless. SitemapBuilder allowed me to extract links, prevent the crawling of certain URLs, edit and delete link properties, generate a Google Sitemap, save it in the proper Google Sitemap format and generate reports. I highly recommend SiteMapBuilder if you do not have the technical know-how to create a sitemap on your own - best of all - it's freeware.

Pete Prestipino - WSM Managing Editor

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