Sitemaps Benefit Viewers Search Engines

Sitemaps Benefit Viewers Search Engines



Search engine ranking is​ perhaps the most important element that determines a​ website’s success. The key to​ getting your​ website to​ appear in​ the search engine results starts with getting your​ website’s pages indexed. By indexed, I mean allowing the Google robot to​ visit and​ scan each page on​ your​ website to​ determine its relevance. However, many search engines have a​ difficult time finding pages that are buried deep in​ your​ site’s navigation​ structure. Below I will discuss some techniques that will help the search engines find those hidden pages, as​ well as​ assist human visitors to​ navigate your​ website. I will be focusing exclusively on​ Google because, although there are many search engines, most websites get 50x more traffic from Google than Yahoo & MSN combined.


Depth of​ the Index

The frequency which Google visits your​ site to​ index pages is​ largely determined by the frequency of​ website updates. if​ your​ website is​ updated daily, Google is​ likely to​ visit everyday. The “depth” of​ Google’s indexing refers to​ the tiers of​ your​ website’s navigation​ tree that will get indexed. for​ example, your​ homepage would be the first tier and​ any pages linked from the homepage, such as​ your​ “Company Info” page would be 2nd tier pages. Any pages that are only accessible from these second tier pages would be considered 3rd tier pages.

The depth of​ Google’s index largely depends on​ each page’s Page Rank (that addicting little green bar on​ the Google Toolbar). Generally, as​ you​ move from the 1st to​ 2nd and​ from 2nd to​ 3rd tier of​ your​ website’s navigation​ structure, Page Rank will fall. if​ your​ homepage has a​ Page Rank of​ at​ least one, your​ 2nd tier pages should get indexed. if​ your​ second tier pages have low or​ no Page Rank, then Google probably hasn’t indexed any pages past this​ tier and​ isn’t aware that other pages exist.


What is​ a​ SiteMap?

A sitemap lists all your​ website’s pages in​ a​ structured, single page format. By viewing your​ sitemap, a​ website visitor can quickly and​ easily be aware of​ all your​ website’s pages and​ navigate to​ the area they are interested in. Although this​ type of​ sitemap is​ geared towards human viewers, it​ is​ also beneficial for​ search engines because it​ will allow the robots to​ see pages that may be 4 or​ 5 tiers deep in​ your​ website. Given that the Page Rank on​ you​ sitemap page is​ ample enough (make sure it​ is​ linked from your​ homepage), Google should crawl and​ index your​ whole website.


New Type of​ SiteMap

There is​ a​ new type of​ sitemap available to​ use – The Google SiteMap. it​ is​ a​ little different from the traditional sitemap – it​ is​ an​ XML file located on​ your​ website’s server that lists all your​ website’s pages and​ associated attributes. Google will read this​ file and​ will be aware of​ all your​ website’s pages, regardless of​ the depth of​ the navigation​ structure. in​ addition​ to​ listing each page of​ your​ website, you​ can also specify attributes such as​ the frequency of​ updates and​ priority of​ indexing for​ each page.


How Does it​ Work?

As I said before, the Google Sitemap is​ created in​ XML (Extensible Markup Language). it​ is​ similar to​ HTML, and​ often used these days in​ RSS and​ blog feeds. Here is​ an​ example of​ an​ entry that would be written for​ each page in​ a​ website:

http://www.yoursite.com/index.html
2018-05-18
monthly
0.8

The “url” tag specifies that you​ are entering information​ for​ a​ new URL (website page). The “lastmod” tag specifies when the page was last updated. The “changefreq” tag specifies how often the page is​ updated. The “priority” tag specifies the relative priority for​ indexing of​ that page.


Helpful Tools

this​ new type of​ sitemap is​ great for​ letting Google know about your​ whole website. The bad news is​ that this​ XML file needs to​ edited in​ Notepad each time you​ make a​ change or​ addition​ that effects your​ website’s navigation​ structure. if​ your​ website changes frequently or​ you​ have a​ lot of​ pages, coding the file by hand​ can be a​ real pain. Fortunately, there are many sitemap generators available for​ free on​ the Internet. Just do a​ search for​ “Google Sitemap Generator” and​ you​ will find dozens of​ free tools that will “crawl” your​ website and​ create the sitemap for​ you.


Conclusion

Google states that using their sitemap program will not increase your​ search engine rankings. But, it​ will get more of​ your​ pages indexed, and​ Google in​ turn should deem your​ website larger and​ more important. in​ the long run this​ should lead to​ increased search engine traffic. Don’t forget to​ update your​ sitemap when your​ website changes. By keeping both types of​ sitemaps updated and​ accessible, your​ website will quickly become a​ visitor and​ search engine favorite.




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