Why, how and where to create a sitemap

Update: for wordpress.com bloggers

If you have a free hosted wordpress.com blog like this one then you will not have to worry about getting a sitemap for it and submitting it to Google.  The official announcement that sitemaps are included in free hosted wordpress.com blogs was made on June 16th, 2008.

Nikolay Bachiyski:  It is hard for search engines to grasp the tens of millions posts at WordPress.com, so we’re giving them a hand. …  you don’t have to inform anybody, because we will do it automatically for you.  A sitemap file is available to every search engine that supports the protocol including Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask.com, and others.

However, if you have a self hosted wordpress blog or a blog running on other software then you will be well served by creating and submitting a sitemap to Google.

sitemap spider
sitemap spider

What are Sitemaps?
Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling.

In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

Sitemap 0.90 is offered under the terms of the Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License and has wide adoption, including support from Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft.

Where to get a sitemap
There is a free generator online at xml-sitemaps.com that can be used by bloggers and website owners.
Here are 4 simple steps to get it done:
(1) Enter your full website URL and some optional parameters in the form.
(2) Press ‘Start’ button and wait until the site is completely crawled (the progress will be indicated)
(3) You will see the generated sitemap details page, including number of pages, broken links list, XML file content and link to a compressed sitemap. Download the sitemap file using this link and put it into the “public_html/” folder of your site.
(4) Go to your Google Webmaster account and add your sitemap URL.

Submit your sitemap to Google
A Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google’s normal crawling process.

Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren’t easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process – for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or Flash.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn’t well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

Reference: The importance of a sitemap
Related posts found in this blog: SEO site:onecoolsite.wordpress.com

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7 thoughts on “Why, how and where to create a sitemap

  1. Hi Timethief,

    I realized today that google may not automatically find hosted wordpress.com sitemaps.

    I checked my google webmaster account and submitted the sitemap.xml.

  2. Hi timethief,

    I was reading through some of your SEO posts when I found this today. Forgive me for commenting on an old post but I know how quickly things change at WordPress.com (for the better). I just want to confirm if there is any new developments concerning sitemaps for WordPress.com users. Looks like they have already done all of the work for us and I have no worries.

    Thanks.
    @Ileane

    1. Hello Ileane,
      We wordpress.com users can all read the wordpress.com announcements in the official wordpress.com blog, and new inclusions in the support documentation, and then confirm whether or not we are up to date with changes. :) If we are then we know the 3 alternatives available for sitemaps.

      This post was not written only for wordpress.com users. It was written with self hosting wordpress.com bloggers, blogspot bloggers, and also bloggers working on other blogging platforms in mind as well. Google webmasters offers us opportunities to add RSS feeds that readers have subscribed to be included as sitemaps.

      Happy blogging!

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