Creating a site map for Google

With more and more people finding sites through search engines it is essential that your site is search engine friendly. One way you can improve your ‘relationship’ with search engines is the creation of a Google sitemap.

Google sitemaps help Google to crawl your site, telling it where all your interesting content is, which done properly can help improve search ranks and provide you with useful insight into how people are finding your site.

A Google sitemap is different from the sitemap you may have on your web site. A Google sitemap is an ‘XML’ file placed where your site is hosted for use by a search engine crawler rather than a human user of your site. Using the sitemaps does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers to do a better job of crawling your site.

To tell Google where your sitemap is you will need a Google account where you will then get access to Googles webmaster tools. Creating an account is easy and free.

To add a sitemap to Google you first have to prove you are the owner of the website. You do this by placing a file on your site which Google then uses as proof the site is yours and that you are authorised to view statistics about it.

There are several tools available to create site maps. G Sitemaps is free without restriction. I haven’t used it extensively however it seems to do the job on first look.

Google’s advice on producing sitemaps for a large site

‘You can provide multiple Sitemap files, but each Sitemap file that you provide must have no more than 50,000 URLs and must be no larger than 10MB when uncompressed. These limits help to ensure that your web server does not get bogged down serving very large files.

If you want to list more than 50,000 URLs, you must create multiple Sitemap files. If you anticipate your Sitemap growing beyond 50,000 URLs or 10MB, you should consider creating multiple Sitemap files. If you do provide multiple Sitemaps, you can list them in a Sitemap index file. A Sitemap index file can list up to 1,000 Sitemaps.’

Video Sitemaps

If your site has video the content is hidden from the search engine except for what you write about it within the page. To improve your listing of video content and get your content listed in Google video search you need to create a video site map.

Here is an example, provided by Google, of what a video sitemap would look like.

Here is a sample of a Video Sitemap entry using Video-specific tags:

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
        xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.0">
<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/video123.flv</video:content_loc>
      <video:player_loc allow_embed="yes">http://www.site.com/videoplayer.swf?video=123</video:player_loc>
      <video:title>My funny video</video:title>
      <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.site.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>
   </video:video>
</url>

<url>
   <loc>http://www.site.com/videos/some_other_video_landing_page.html</loc>
   <video:video>
      <video:content_loc>http://www.site.com/videos/video1.mpg</video:content_loc>
      <video:description>A really awesome video</video:description>
   </video:video>
</url>
</urlset>
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