XML Sitemaps – A Brief Introduction

Google was the very first search engine to introduce sitemaps with the Google XML sitemap format in 2005. As the internet evolved, so the standard evolved with all the search engines and it soon became the standard for all these search giants on how to complete a crawl of a website and of course the subsequent indexing of the site.  Essentially an XML sitemap is merely an XML file containing a listing of a site that includes URLs and some info about those URLs. A site can have multiple sitemaps all stored in multiple directories, so it’s useful if you can test from a variety of  sources perhaps through VPNs and proxies like this if you have the facility available.To assist search engines detect the various sitemaps an organization may have, the locations of the XML file are detailed at the end of a site’s robots.txt file.  Make sure that the search engine can access all these pages using a standard TCP/IP connection.

An XML sitemap is ideal for sites where some pages are updated more often or where some pages are more significant than many others. For instance, a local company might update its opening hours or product lists quite often, while infrequently updating the page describing the history of its company. In that case, the webmaster would need to notify search engines when it does its ordinary site crawling to put a higher priority in the hours page. Likewise, the webmaster can put an increased importance on the hours pages or perhaps on other pages with particular content, so the search engine’s site indexing ranks those pages greater.

Sitemaps should comprise the date a page was last altered, how often that page changes and that page’s priority. The last modified date is merely the calendar date the page last changed. The precedence is a value from zero to 1 with a default of 0.5. Writing out this advice for each page isn’t challenging, but it could be boring. Using an XML sitemap generator can help decrease the quantity of work a webmaster has to do when creating the sitemap. While other web sites provide offline generators several web sites provide an on-line sitemap generator.

In case your site features many thousands of web pages, you must utilize a professional sitemap creator instead. It can save you a huge amount of time and in some cases your sanity!   They’re not expensive in fact I used one in Paris for many years which was completely free although it was restricted to French IP addresses only, so I had to use a proxy in France like this.

Although a sitemap is frequently overlooked, it is an essential resource which helps search engines understand sites. Sitemaps can be basic or complicated, conditioned upon the site’s size and demands.