|Google Sitemaps & Google Sitemap Generators|
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What is a Google Sitemap?
Google Sitemaps help Google's search engine spider discover and index pages on your website. In its basic form, a Google Sitemap is a list of all the webpages on your website. When Google's search engine spider reads this list, it then knows about all those webpages that are specified in the sitemap.
Google Sitemaps come in two formats: xml sitemaps and text sitemaps. Both formats contain the addresses of all the webpages on your website. The XML version contains additional information about each webpage such as its last modification date and roughly how often it is updated.
How Does a Google Sitemap Help Me?
If your website does not have a Google Sitemap, Google's search engine spider downloads a webpage from your website and scans through it looking for any links that it contains to other webpages in your website. Google's spider then downloads all those newly discovered pages and repeats the process of scanning for links. Such download and scanning takes time.
If you have a Google Sitemap, Google's spider immediately knows about all the webpages on your website. Reading the Google Sitemap is considerably faster than having to download and scan each page. A Google Sitemap also helps if your webpages are not well linked together or not at all. In that case, without a Google Sitemap, it may take a while for some webpages to be discovered or discovered at all. Google Sitemaps eliminate that problem.
Does Google.com Index Everything?
The answer to that question is no. Google.com states, "we can't guarantee that URLs from your Sitemap will be added to the Google index."
Even though Google.com does not guarantee that it will index everything that you specify in your Google Sitemap, a Google Sitemap should increase the opportunity that your webpages will be indexed sooner since Google will know about them sooner.
If Google does not know about your webpages, they definitely will not be indexed.
If I Create a Sitemap Will It Hurt Me?
Google.com states, "In most cases, webmasters will benefit from Sitemap submission, and in no case will you be penalized for it."
Google.com uses the information contained in your Google Sitemap to learn about the structure of your website and to better schedule its search engine spider in the scanning (a.k.a. crawling or spidering) of your website.
How Do I Generate a Google Sitemap?
There are several tools available that you use to create Google Sitemap. Google.com itself even provides a sitemap generator written in the Python programming language.
There are also websites where you type in your website address and its spider goes and scans your website to determine all your webpages; however, such scanning is time consuming since every page on your website must be scanned, and the process must be initiated by you.
A faster way of generating a Google Sitemap is to use Google Sitemap generator software that runs locally on your website.
How Can I Automate Google Sitemap Generation?
Creating sitemaps can be an automated process.
The simplest way is to install and use the sitemap.pl Google Sitemap generator software. Once you install this software in your cgi-bin directory, the software will automatically generate the Google Sitemap each time it is accessed. This software is of the type whereby you can "set it and forget it". You can go about adding to your website and you do not have to worry about updating your Google Sitemap.
The software works by scanning your website's hard drive looking for files to include in your Google Sitemap. By directly accessing the hard drive rather than downloading webpages, the software very quickly generates the Google Sitemap. On a typical server, the sitemap.pl sitemap generator software finds about 500 webpages per second (that's 2 ms/page).
How Do I Tell Google.com About My Google Sitemap?
There are two ways that you can use to tell Google.com about your Google Sitemap.
The first method is the simplest and the quickest to do. In your robots.txt file, include a line that says "sitemap:" followed by the website address of your Google Sitemap. For example, the Google Sitemap of the bime.com website is located at http://www.bime.com/sitemap.xml thus its robots.txt file contains a line that states, "sitemap: http://www.bime.com/sitemap.xml".
The second method involves logging into Google.com Webmaster Tools at http://www.google.com/sitemaps, adding your site to the Sites Dashboard, and then submitting your Google Sitemap. Once you add your site, click the "Verify" link and follow the instructions and you will gain access to additional statistics about your website and status information about the processing of your Google Sitemap.
In Summary, What Do I Need to Do?
1. Use a Google Sitemap Generator such as sitemap.pl
2. Add your Google Sitemap to your robots.txt file.
3. Add your site to Google Webmaster Tools
4. Submit your Google Sitemap.
Having an Google Sitemap is a good first step to get your webpages indexed. And with an automated sitemaps generator, improve the possibility of your webpages being indexed and showing up in search engine results.
See also: Guide: Google Sitemaps
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