How to create a site map for submission to Google

How to create a sitemap following Protocol 0.9

Navigation for Websites

When creating a site map for submission to Google you have to create it an XML format. What you are effectively doing is making a complete list of all the pages on your website that you want the search engines to find, you would not include pages you don’t want them to find e.g. a ‘Thank You’ page for a feedback form submission.

Its fair to say that under normal circumstances the pages of relevance to a website will be found by the spiders as long as an effective navigation scheme has been implemented i.e. you have used a sensible menu system which is primarily text based and that links to all the public pages of your website in an easy to follow manner.

A lot of webmasters tend to use ‘flash based’ or ‘graphic’ images for their menus to enhance the aesthetic look of a website. The problem is that these types of menu systems are more difficult for the search engines to crawl and it is possible that certain pages linked to in this way may not be found. Providing a site map should overcome this problem also using the ‘alternative text’ option and an intelligent file naming system for graphics will also help to an extent.

Additional functionality of sitemaps:

to advise the search engines how often pages get updated
to advise search engines when a page was last updated on a page by page basis
how important you think each page is on a scale of 0 to 1, this is your own personal ranking and is not affected by external ranking and indeed does not influence external ranking.

Google uses Sitemap Protocol 0.9 which is a protocol that is recognised by many of the other major search engines and any that have adopted the standards of sitemaps.org. for XML sitemaps.

Google states that sites are never penalized for submitting a site map, but they also do not guarantee that just because you have submitted one that you will get all your pages indexed or ranked as a result.

So I guess that by submitting a sitemap there will be nothing to loose but potentially you could benefit, and I stress potentially.

There are 2 types of sitemaps, the one being discussed here is the type you submit to Google for the reasons stated, its format will be Sitemap.xml (capital ‘S’ for Sitemap)

The other type is one that you might release on your website, probably in ‘html’ format i.e. sitemap.html (lower case ‘s’ for sitemap), this is for the benefit of your visitors to help them navigate your website and can be in pretty much any format you feel is fit for purpose. I have only mentioned this type so that you know the difference.

Below is a sitemap example in the XML format that I have submitted and had approved by Google, it follows the relevant protocol and gives Google all the required information it needs to navigate my website.

It is a fairly straight forward and simple website but does illustrate how the protocol is constructed so that you can copy the format and add or remove pages as required, all you need to do is change the URLs, dates and importance of the pages to suit your website.

The date format is year, month, day yyyy-mm-dd

Alternatively there will be a Google site map generator that can be used for creating Google sitemaps for standard websites where perhaps the structure is a little too complex for manual generation as per the sample.

There are other generators available for use with blogs e.g. WordPress blogs, these usually come in the form of a plugin widget and can be really useful because blogs tend to work chronologically and with categories rather than using standard navigation methods.

Sitemap code in XML to suit the protocol adopted by Google

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/accommodation.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.8</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/location.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.7</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/links_page.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.6</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/gallery.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.9</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop2.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop3.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop4.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop5.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop6.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.french-holidays-aude.com/travel_shop7.html</loc>
<lastmod>2009-08-08</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>1.0</priority>
</url>
</urlset>

Submitting a Site Map to Google

In order to submit a sitemap to Google you need to open an account in Google’s ‘Webmaster Tools‘.

Once you are registered you will need to add your site’s homepage URL and verify it, usually by adding a meta tag to the head section of the index page or header page of your blog, then by publishing the updated file so that it is live.

If successful Google will register the verification and take you to the ‘dashboard’ page of that URL where on the bottom right you will see a link saying ‘submit a sitemap’. Make sure you have configured your Sitemap as required in line with the code above and that you have published it to the root directory of your website so that it is live, then click on the link.

The next page will have a button that says ‘Submit Sitemap’, you click on it and complete the URL address for your website e.g. http://mydomain.com/Sitemap.xml.

Then you click on the ‘Submit Sitemap’ button next to the URL name, after that you should get a message saying the sitemap has been submitted and to check back later to see if it has been approved, this may take a few days.

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