Online Marketing Strategies

How To Create Xml Sitemaps in 20 Easy Steps

2016-08-13 | 1339 Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF


Sitemaps 101 – Benefits and Tips of creating Xml Sitemap.


Have you ever wondered how a search engine works? It must be fascinating figuring out how this search tool could direct you to several websites that are relevant to your keywords. Or, have you experienced instances where the link that supposedly contains your keywords is not exactly what you have in mind? You would probably think that there must be something wrong with the search engine that it generated irrelevant results.

xml_sitemaps_sitemap_generator

How does a search engine work?
Two things figure greatly in making search engines work effectively and efficiently: the electronic search spider and the sitemap.

What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is basically a page or pages that serve/s as a directory by listing all the links to all documents and files found in a website. It is not merely a random listing of links, but organized in such a way that it gives the web user an idea of how all the information that can be found in the site fits into an outline or framework. It is like viewing the table of contents of a book, or viewing the “concept map” of the site’s content.

What is a spider?
In SEO language, spider is not an animal found in your closet. This electronic search spider is actually a bot which collects data and copies content to be stored in the search engine’s database when keywords are fed into the search dialogue box. The spider reads the content of the site and sends another bot to follow the links and copy the content contained in them. 

What purpose does a sitemap serve?
A sitemap like any other map gives directions to a navigator. It primarily targets search engine spiders so that they are properly directed to your site and to the links where keywords entered in the search dialogue appears.  As such, it is actually a useful tool in search engine optimization. A well organized site map would guide the spider to find the information it needs when keywords are entered during a search operation. 

As an additional beneficial consequence, sitemaps have proven to be useful even to web users. Since a sitemap displays all the links to information found in a website, it helps the user to search for a particular topic in mind. Many users also use the sitemap to navigate between pages in a site.

What are the benefits of having a sitemap for my website?

1.    No page would be left unturned
Going back to the purpose of sitemaps, having one would mean faster and easier tracking and crawling of spiders all over your site. As a result, search engines would surely get to the view all the pages of your site and not just the pages containing random keywords. 

2.    Easier navigation for site visitors
Once a web user has accessed your sitemap, they need not go back to the search engine page to look for what they need. If what they are looking for is in your site, then they would have an easier and faster way of locating it.

3.    Potential advertising value
If it so happens that a relevant product or service company reaches your site, then it would be easier for them to see how best they can position themselves in the different pages of your site as a paid page advertisement.

4.    Encourage greater traffic to your site
If your company website has a sitemap then potential buyers would have an easier time in accessing your latest products and services. Moreover, they would not miss out on any product that might be off future interest to them since the sitemap would display all information found the site.

 

How are sitemaps formatted?


There are at least three major types of sitemaps: indexed, full categorical, and restricted categorical. An indexed site map appears as an alphabetical listing or directory.
A full categorical map displays all links classified into categories; while a restricted categorical sitemap displays all links listed in a chosen category at a time. The full and restricted sitemaps are very similar except that the former displays all links in all categories all at once in a page, while the latter focuses only the links under the selected category for easier and less eye-straining viewing.

The most widely used format is the full categorical. Based on the results of a 1999 SURL study on sitemap designs, the full categorical format is most preferred by users since it is easier to search for topics within the site and it allows easier comparison between and among categories.

Some tips in setting up your xml sitemap.

1.    Link the sitemap only to your homepage.
This is to ensure that the spider starts searching from your homepage down to all the pages listed in your sitemap. In this way, no page would be left unvisited by the spider.

2.    Do not go beyond 30 pages for a sitemap.
Large websites having 50 or more pages should not go beyond 30 since this adds more pages to the site, and might make search engines think that the sitemap is a link farm. Also, this prevents overcrowding of links which could be tiring to view.

3.    Check all the links listed in your sitemap.
It can be discouraging when you click on a link only to find out that nothing is displayed. Test your sitemap; click all links in every page to make sure that all links are indeed linked to the right page.

4.    Give keyword-rich titles to sitemap links.
Keyword-rich titles give your site more advantage in being searched properly under the right category. But be sure to have this sitemap link linked back to the sitemap (e.g. back to sitemap).

5.    Provide a short description for the links in the sitemap.
Doing so would give readers a better idea of what to find in the link and save them time on surfing.

6.    Be consistent in designing your sitemap with the other pages of the site.
Employ a recurring design and the same HTML template for all pages to establish identity and build character to your website.

Now that you have learned basic things about sitemaps, maybe it is time for you to build one for your site.

 

How to create or generate a sitemap. 

A sitemap of a website is similar to the table of contents of a book.  Sitemaps are important because it guides web surfers to the particular part of the website they have a point of interest in. With it they would save time following links and get right to the point instead. 

Sitemaps are also where search engines look at if somebody is looking for a particular keyword or phrase. If you have a site map, you can most likely be searched.

Creating a sitemap, now with software technology surging in, is relatively easier than before.  You need not be a programming guru to be one. All need is a notepad, a program editor, and some patience. Here’s how you do it:

Create the listing on a notepad.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a notepad. Any word processing program will do. First off, make sure to type in all the parts and pieces of your website. Include all pages and all links you have. Create it as if you listing the contents of your book. Make a draft first. You’re sure no to miss something out this way.

Create a new page for your sitemap.
You can insert the sitemap on your website on one of its pages or you can create an entirely different page for it. Using your notepad, incorporate all tags necessary to it to make another webpage. Open up your website creator program and tag your sitemap using it. If you have created your website on your own, this will be easy for you.

Create a link for the xml sitemap.
You won’t be able to view the sitemap if you won’t put a link for it, of course. Create the link on the front page of your website so that visitors can view it right away and be directed appropriately.

Check your work. 
It is important to validate the functionality of the links you created on the sitemap. Test each and every one in there and if you get an error, be sure to fix it accurately. Run through every single page to make sure that all are accounted for. 

Upload your work. 
Place the sitemap now on your live browser and double check it. It should function as smoothly as the dry run. Error should be minimal at this stage since you already have verified it locally. 

The steps provided herewith is the manual way of creating a sitemap. These days, if you search hard enough on the web, you will find online programs that will do all these work for you. All you have to do it type in the URL or the link of your website and they will create the sitemap with click of a button.

Of course that method is generic. All of you who have created their sitemap that way will have an end product that is all the same, plus there’s that possibility that something else will be inserted in there too. Then again, the process is less taxing and way, way simpler.

But if you want a more personalized output, and you are pretty good with computers and programming yourself, better make one of your own.  And since you made your website anyway, creating sitemap is just like creating any other page on the website. Other than you’ll know for sure the links are accurate, you can organize the links the way you prefer it to be. Major parts of the site are emphasized compared to less significant. This is important especially if you are selling products or offering services online.

Sitemap is vital to a website. People search the web a lot for something. If your website has what that particular person is looking for, and your sitemap reports it, then you have a new customer looking at your items.  Not only that, they will see some other things up for sale that they might be interested in as well.

Sitemaps, be it generated by a program automatically or you made it yourself, presents the same purpose. That is to lead your visitors to where they’re likely headed, and for you to be seen on the World Wide Web through search spiders.  So with these, make sure your website has a sitemap of its own, lest make one.

 

XML Sitemap Generator.


An important tip to remember every now and then is that people visit the site checking out for some information.  These Surfers can be an unforgiving lot. Once they found things useful for them in a site they would definitely visit every now and then.

The reason why site maps are indispensable is due to its helpfulness in letting the surfers understand the site program and plan and therefore, speed up the way to onset to what the site will be showcasing.  This is a part of the website created where the edifice of a web site can be visible to a surfer or visitor. These visitors can choose the link to where they want to surf with just a touch of the mouse of keyboard.

Here are Significant key pointers of a good site map, which helps visitors at finding information faster on a web site:

· The site map should be the simplest page on the web site. 
· Keep the name "Site Map" so those visitors won't be having a hard time looking for it.
· Always avoid "dynamic" site maps. Those in which the visitors have to find their way easily to get hold of information. 
· If the site map is list of text links, use the TITLE attribute of the anchor tag and include keywords inside it. 
· Putting a sentence describing the page contents below the link for that page on a site map is always good.
· It should not be the primary navigation on the web site it should complement it. 
· It is very important that there is a link to the site map page and all pages should carry this link. The site map link can be combined with other links in the main menu on the web site or placed at a section on the web page from which is it clearly seen. 
· Other important factors on a web site should complement site maps. For example, the link color for visited links should be different from that of not yet visited links so that visitors have a clear idea which pages they have already seen and thus, save time.

In addition to the advantages a site map showcase to "living" surfers, it is also significant for robot surfers from search engines . As a web developer should be aiming to get all visible pages on the web site found in the search engine database. As expected a site map, from one page to another, should carry links to all, it is an ideal form to submit to search engines . Submission of the site map to a search engine might help in getting all web pages indexed quickly by the search engine. I may be incorrect since I have no data to support this point but it just seems logical. However, on a similar note, there is still a limit to all the information that a search engine could provide a visitor. For example, if there’s a page which is not found in the directory program of the web site, it will not be detected other search engines. With this in mind, another importance of a site map it tells the search engine instantly to go to a specifc page rather than scouting through the links.

 

Two important questions:
1. Will the website appear as it was planned even for robots?
2. Are the pages exact and effectively designed?


Having a site map assists the creator in planning the site before he can even start creating it. Once the pages have been decided, the whole thing becomes simpler and the web pages designs are easily matched to the creator’s ideas.  

There are 5 important tips in making a good site map:

Good Site Must-Have 1
The logo should be linked to the website homepage.

Good Site Must-Have 2
The Site map must be place either on top or on the upper left, under the header.  Unless everything’s in order already and sure about the design, never try to alter or make changes for a while.

 

Sitemap taxonomy - To classify web content.

Sitemap taxonomy is a way to classify the tremendous amount of information available on the World Wide Web. Organizing web content is a lot of work that requires manpower and money. But creating sitemap taxonomy is a process that must be done in order to make information readily available to users. 

Often times the information is there but users are unable to access it. With the sitemap taxonomy, web content is arranged in such a way that the user will be able to use it effectively. As it is more and more users are flooded with information that is useless to them thus creating frustration. 

Impact of sitemap taxonomy to Internet marketing

Sitemap taxonomy can be a big boost to Internet marketing. The whole purpose of being on the web is to get exposure to a wider audience of potential customers. Unfortunately, the overflow of information often makes it impossible for searchers or browsers to find what they need. 

Most of the time online users form searches that often turn up useless or non-relevant results. This is not only frustrating for users but also for any company advertised on the web. Users are left guessing the right keyword they need to use in order to get the information they need off the web. 

Unfortunately not all users have the patience to keep guessing until they find the right keyword. More often than not, users will give up their search and go on with another search. This can mean lost sales for any company on the web that doesn't have a sitemap taxonomy. 

 

Building a sitemap taxonomy

Many people may think that building sitemap taxonomy is an easy simple process of putting together keywords. Sorry to say, sitemap taxonomy is a demanding task however it does have its rewards. With an effective sitemap taxonomy in place, a website is more likely to get more traffic that would translate into profits. 

Working out a sitemap taxonomy is often a trial and error process. It requires using the right terms that users are better acquainted with, in order for them to find their way through the site. At the same time, using the wrong terms may make it impossible for users to find what they need within the site.  

There are generally two sets of online users that should benefit from the sitemap taxonomy, browsers and searchers. Browsers often use the sitemap taxonomy to find their way within a site while searchers use online search engines to find the information they need. No matter what type of user is involved, the sitemap taxonomy should address the needs of both users. Enabling either user to find the content they need. 

 

Do-it-yourself sitemap taxonomy

The best candidate for creating the sitemap taxonomy of a site is the company itself or the individual behind the website content. Although hiring a professional to create the sitemap taxonomy of the site is an option, it is best that someone with firsthand knowledge of the website's content do it. There are a number of important aspects to consider before doing the sitemap taxonomy. 

Keep in mind that in general the sitemap taxonomy should be extensive not profound. Putting together profound sitemap taxonomy may only make matters worse as the user will have a difficult time finding the subject matter they need. It is also best to use basic terms instead of advertising jargon that can be easily understood by all. 

When structuring the sitemap taxonomy, it is important to maintain some exactness at the highest levels. This helps make it easier for users to navigate the site and find the information they need. It is also a good idea to limit the number of items under each level from two to seven subject matters. If not then it is best to combine subject matters for a more efficient sitemap taxonomy. 

Take into account that sitemap taxonomy is not an exact science. It requires constant fine-tuning in order to produce an effective sitemap taxonomy. However the entire process will pay off big in the long run as users who are more likely to find what they need are those more likely to spend money. 


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Author


Olatunji Adetunji

I am a seo web analyst and have a love for anything online marketing. Have been able to perform researches using the built up internet marketing tool; seo web analyst as a case study and will be using the web marketing tool (platform).

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