Google has implemented a
cutting edge method of crawling web site for its
search engine index. This unprecedented method of
indexing web pages is known as Google Sitemaps,
and it is quickly growing in popularity among webmasters
and SEO agents and managers due to its ability to
get entire web site indexed quickly and to pick
up errors in the links coming into and out of these
Google Sitemaps consists of placing the URLs of
your pages along with important information regarding
how Google should index them into an XML document.
This information is then read by the Google Spider
and the pages are normally indexed quite quickly
assuming that they are coherent to Google's standards
for indexing pages (and also assuming that the sitemaps
conform to Googles Sitemap Criteria which will be
explained a little later).
There are two primary types of Google Sitemaps.
The first is a list of pages in a website and the
second is a list of sitemaps in the website. Google
has limited the number of URLs in its sitemaps to
fifty thousand URLs. This may sound like a lot,
but for some of the more intricate web sites, fifty
thousand URLs may not even make a dent in what they
This led to the advent of the Google Sitemap index
file which can index up to one thousand sitemaps.
If you do the math, this means that you could have
one thousand sitemaps with up to fifty thousand
URLs in each sitemap which allows for fifty million
URLs to be placed in your Google Sitemap scheme.
But wait, there's more. Who ever said that you can't
have an index of indexes? You could actually make
an index of a thousand index files which are all
indexes of a thousand index files. Basically, there
is no limit to the number of URLs that you can hold
in your Google sitemaps.
Now that you understand the power of the Google
Sitemap you're probably asking yourself how to create
and implement a Google Sitemap. The first step is
to simply create your sitemaps. Here are the templates
which are also available at https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/
For a sitemap file use the following format:
Those of you not familiar with the latest on SEO
now have at least a basic understanding. But there's
more to come.
Everything here is pretty self-explanatory with
the exception of the changefreq and the priority
aspects. The changefreq asks how often you think
the page will change on average. The possible values
for the changefreq option are: always, hourly, daily,
weekly, monthly, yearly, and never. The priority
aspect basically just asks how important the particular
page is in your website. The value can be anywhere
between 0.0 and 1.0. If you decide not to specify
a priority it will default to 0.5.
To create a sitemap index file follow the following
This is all pretty straight forward but it leads
me to my next point. You notice that the file names
all end in .gz. Google allows you to compress your
sitemaps so that they take up less of your disk
space when you place them on your site and less
of your bandwidth when Google downloads them (which
it seems to do approximately once every 9 hours
or so). You may only use .gz compression. If you
try .zip, it won't work.
Now all that you really have to do is submit your
sitemap to google. In order to do this you must
go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/login
and log into your Google account. If you don't have
a Google account, you can create one. Once you log
in you will be allowed to submit your sitemap into
the google index. At some point within about 24
hours of your submission, Google will give you the
option to place a small HTML file onto your website
so that it can confirm that you do, indeed, have
access to editing the site. Once you have done this
it will begin to provide you with statistics regarding
your google sitemap. (Note that even without this
feature you can see when google downloaded the sitemap
last and what the status of the sitemap was at that
How Google Sitemaps Fits Into Search Engine Optimization.
According to Google, the Sitemaps utility is free
and will continue to be – yet it’s almost as good
as the paid inclusion service offered by rival search
engines. So how can you take advantage of this great
First of all, you should create a Google Account.
Although you can still use Google Sitemaps without
an account, you need one before you can use Google’s
tools to check your site submissions. Once you do
that and go to http://sitemaps.google.com,
you’ll be guided through the process.
Google Sitemaps has a very helpful question and
answer page that will give you the help you need
– the answers to most questions people have can
be found right there. Good luck!
Now that wasn't hard at all, was it? And you've
earned a wealth of knowledge, just from taking some
time to study an expert's word on SEO.
the Author: James Mahony is the founder of Search
Engine Optimization Tips - A site dedicated
to Search Engine Optimization SEO
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