Creation of SitemapsThere are two types of sitemaps that are frequently created by webmasters: HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps.
These are created to help the human visitors find their way around your website. The sitemap page is a regular html webpage that consists of listings of links to all the pages on the website. It is in effect an index of all the pages (it cannot be called an index page as the name index page is reserved for the opening page on a website which usually has the file name index.html)
A sitemap page as described above is particularly useful as it is not usually possible for links to all pages to be placed on each webpage. Even with the use of drop-down menus too much information and too many choices are being presented to visitors.This is an example of a sitemap page for quite a large Driving School website: Mikes Driving Lessons - Sitemap page
XML Sitemaps are created to help search engine robots especially googlebot (the google search engine robot) find their way more easily around your website. They are created in .XML format which can be viewed with notepad or similar text processors which can display .txt format files. It is possible to have more than one xml sitemap, one say for your main site and another for your blog pages. Consider at first having just one xml sitemap for your webpages and then going onto having one for your images.
- Select one of the Sitemap generators on the Technical Resources page Sitemap Generators. I would recommend either of the sitemap generators listed.
- Enter your website address http://www.your-domain-name.co.uk/ and click start/generate sitemap
- Once completed, follow instructions to save/download the sitemap. It should be saved in your local website pages folder and uploaded to the domain root folder on your server using ftp or the file manager on your webhost site.
- You then need to upload your sitemap to the Google Search console. You will be asked to login to your Google account (if you don't already have one you can register at this stage, obtaining a free e-mail account as a bonus)
- Once logged in to the Google Search console you will be asked to add a website to your account, verifying that you are the owner of the site (this is achieved by uploading a verification file or adding a verification metatag to one of your pages), upload your sitemap and ask Google to "Fetch" ie index the website. This is particularly important with a new website and asking Google to fetch your sitemap will speed up the process of google initially indexing your website
An example xml sitemap: Mikes Driving Lessons XML Sitemap page
Note: If you don't want google to index one or more of your pages eg a thankyou page after completing an online form then add a no-index metatag to the page within the HEAD section
Other articles by Michael Fowler:
Broken Links - Michael Fowler
Discussion of broken links, what they are, how they occur, their detrimental effect and how to eliminate or minimise the effect they have on the performance of your website
Choosing the right domain name extension - Michael Fowler
Discussion of the different domain name extensions available and their suitability for different types of website.
Hosting Reviews - Michael Fowler
A listing of leading website hosting companies with links to Review centre and Trust Pilot reviews