A sitemap is an often overlooked file that helps modern search engines index and understand websites better. Google was the first to introduce sitemaps with the Google XML sitemap format in 2005. A little more than a year later, Google abandoned his proprietary sitemap format and joined other search companies to create an XML sitemap standard. This new standard has replaced the previous Google XML standard and is used now by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search companies. As the web evolves, the standard evolves with it and the search engines look toward the standard for guidance on how best to complete their website indexing and website crawling.
Essentially an XML sitemap is just an XML file placed in a directory of a website that contains URLs and some information about those URLs. A website can have multiple sitemaps placed in multiple directories. To help search engines discover the various sitemaps an organization might have, the locations of the XML file are listed at the bottom of a website’s robots.txt file.
An XML sitemap is useful for websites where some pages are justmyfitness updated more frequently or where some pages are more important than others. For example, a local business might update its hours frequently while rarely updating the page describing the history of its business. In that case, the webmaster would want to inform search engines to place a higher priority on the hours page when it does its normal website crawling. Likewise, the webmaster can place a higher emphasis on the hours pages or maybe on other pages with special content, so that the search engine’s website indexing ranks those pages higher.
Sitemaps should contain the date a page was last modified, how frequently that page changes and that page’s priority. The last modified date is simply the calendar date the page last changed. The frequency that a page can change can be hourly, daily, monthly or several other values. The priority is a value from zero to one with a default of 0.5.
Writing out this information for each page is not difficult, but it can be tedious. Using an XML sitemap generator can help reduce the amount of work a webmaster has to do when writing the sitemap. Several websites provide an online sitemap generator while other websites provide offline generators.
Most XML sitemap generators are free to use tools, although they use to limit the number of pages they can crawl. If your website contains many thousands of web pages, you should use a professional sitemap creator instead.
Although a sitemap is often overlooked, it is an important resource that helps search engines understand websites. Sitemaps can be basic or complex, depending on the website’s size and needs. Both basic and complex sitemaps are useful to search engines, so webmasters without a sitemap should create at least a basic XML sitemap right away.
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