Tutorial

A sitemap is a special file that contains all your links to your sites pages. The most common preferred format is xml. It is used by Google, Yahoo, Ask, Msn, etc.

I realize this article is a little lengthy, but I would read over this when you get a spare moment. Many people do not know what one is, what it does, or how important and helpful it is to getting your site indexed into google, yahoo, msn, and others.

One of the things you can include in a sitemap is xml format is priority codes. There is speculation and debate over the importance of the priority codes used in sitemaps but here are some thoughts by well-known sites that deal specifically with it.

Priorities in XML sitemaps - effects on search engines

    * Website crawlers and bots:
          o Likely Pages with high priority values get crawled more often.
          o Likely For new websites, help guide crawlers which pages to index first.
    * Search engine result pages (SERPs):
          o Likely Help determine which url to show if multiple pages from a website match a query.
    * Search engine results and ranking algorithms:
          o Speculative If website and XML sitemap is trusted, influence ranking and position in search results.
                + As comparison, it is also possible to boost rankings using SEO linking techniques within a website.
          o Unlikely You can use XML sitemaps as a direct search engine optimization (SEO) technique.

Reference: http://www.micro-sys.dk/developer/articles/xml-sitemap-priority-tag.php

Some webmasters will create their own sitmaps based on their own personal opinions and thoughts of how important they think a page on their site is. This is debatable as well. See the above link for more info regarding this.

The one thing you do want is your main page to be the highest priority value. After that your other pages should be assigned a lower value of importance.

DO NOT set all priorities high and DO NOT set all of them the same. Google will error out and not accept it if all links are the same value. They need to be mixed up and assigned different values.

Valid priority values have range interval [0.0, 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, 0.4, 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, 0.8, 0.9, 1.0].

1.0 being the highest level of importance and should be your top level only.

Here is a shortened version with priorities:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset
      xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
      xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
      xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9
            http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
<!-- created with Free Online Sitemap Generator www.xml-sitemaps.com -->

<url>
  <loc>http://www.dialme.com/</loc>
  <priority>1.00</priority>
  <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
<url>
  <loc>http://www.dialme.com/blogs</loc>
  <priority>0.80</priority>
  <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
<url>
  <loc>http://www.dialme.com/links.php</loc>
  <priority>0.70</priority>
  <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
</urlset>


A simple one (no priorities)


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap/0.84">
<url>
<loc>http://www.dialme.com</loc>
<changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.dialme.com/</loc>
<changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
<url>
<loc>http://www.dialme.com/links.php</loc>
<changefreq>daily</changefreq>
</url>
</urlset>

There are some really good FREE online creators. Try this one:
http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

The drawbacks of these online creators is most will only scan your site and include the first 500 links. For some this is more than adequate, but many will require more than 500.

500 sounds like a pretty big number but remember a lot of your Dolphin site and links are dynamic pages stored in the database. Each and every tag, photo, audio, video, blog, etc...etc. may be considered another link. It really don't take long to have more than 500.

So what do you do?

Use one of the free online creators so you can familiarize yourself with the format of the xml file. Download it and open it up with a text editor like wordpad or notepad and get a feel for what it should look like.

You can manually add to it any time you want. Just make sure what you are adding is a valid link on your site.

Always double check it after making any changes with a validator tool. If there are any errors in the file google and other search engines will refuse and reject it with errors.

You can verify that it's valid here:
http://www.validome.org/google/


Most crawlers and bots look at your robots.txt file for instructions on how to crawl your site. Whether certain files or directories are allowed or not allowed to be crawled.

One thing you should do is add the location to robots.txt, which can help google, yahoo, msn, etc. find it.

If you already have a robots.txt file (yoursite.com/robots.txt) add the following to specify the location to it in robots.txt:

Sitemap: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml

If you do not have a robots.txt you should make one with at least the following statment. You can use notepad or any text editor to make a robots.txt file. Then, upload it to your site root:

User-agent: *

Sitemap: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml


robots.txt should be named exactly that and in your root directory/folder

This will help google, yahoo, msn and other search engines index your pages into the directory. There is no guarantee that any of your pages will be included in a search engine. This can substantially increase the process of getting your pages into the search engines if done right.

Most search engine bots will eventually find your sitemap.xml to help speed up the process even more if you don't have accounts with the 3 big names google, yahoo, and msn you should do so. After creating an account with these you can quickly tell them you have one and this is where it is. They are FREE to register and create and account: (just do this!)
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools
http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster/

The google account will even tell you how many links are in your sitemap, and over time how many they have included in the google search index. It will also let you know if there are any errors or problems.

You will still need to wait a few days possibly up to a week before you start to see google indexing your pages. Still a one week process for something relatively simple is not bad.

Wow this is really cool...This helps a lot....but there is more...

In the coming weeks I will be adding and updating:

  • How to get more visitors and traffic to your site
  • How to increase your google rank
  • How to get better results for your site in google search, yahoo, msn and others.
  • And more!!


All of which you can do yourself. Be gung-ho and get the process rolling fast...or, do it at your leisure in your spare time at your own pace.

This is not something that can be done over night. It does take some time, a certain level of commitment and dedication. You do need to be fairly persistent and keep at it, if you want to improve your site. An inactive site with very little or no content really isn't going to cut it. If you do keep at it over time your site will improve in many ways and many areas. Keep adding content, pages, blogs, whatever. This helps keep google and other crawlers visiting your site often.

Stay tuned for additional information and guides related to this topic in the near future.

 
Written By
Tutorial by: Jeremy LeSarge (AKA Ray)

I am the owner and administrator of DialMe.com. I write Tutorials for Boonex Dolphin as well as tips and resources surrounding website programming and development. I enjoy working with WordPress, SEO, and Web Hosting / Servers. I also maintain a WordPress Blog here on this site where you will find a variety of technology and webmaster resources.

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