Saturday, September 15, 2007


What is a Sitemap file and why should I have one?

You can use a sitemap file to tell us about all the pages on your site, and optionally, to provide information about those pages, such as which are most important and how often they change. Sitemaps are particularly helpful if your site has dynamic content, pages that aren't easily discovered by following links, or if your site is new and has few links to it.Sitemaps helps speed up the discovery of your pages, which is an important first step in crawling and indexing your pages, but there are many other factors that influence the crawling/indexing processes. Sitemaps lets you tell us information about your pages (which ones you think are most important, how often the pages change), so you can have a voice in these subsequent steps. Other factors include:

How many sites link to you
Whether your content is unique and relevant Our ability to crawl the pages successfully

Everything outlined in our webmaster guidelines.
A sitemap provides an additional view into your site (just as your home page and HTML site map do), but sitemaps do not replace our normal methods of crawling the web. Google still searches and indexes your sites in the normal way, whether or not you use this program, and sites are never penalized for using this service. We can't make any predictions or guarantees about when or if your URLs will be crawled or added to our index but over time, as we refine our processes and better understand webmasters' needs, we expect both coverage and time-to-index to improve.Once you have created your Sitemap, you can add it to your Google Sitemaps account and update it as your site changes.

How do I create a Sitemap file?

Google can accept Sitemaps in a number of formats, but Google encourages the use of Sitemaps that use the Sitemap protocol, both because it enables site owners to provide additional information about site pages beyond just the URLs, and because Google offers this protocol under the terms of the Attribution-ShareAlike Creative Commons License so that other search engines can make use of it. We hope that site owners can create a single Sitemap for all search engines to use.

All Sitemaps, regardless of format, have the same guidelines. Mobile sitemaps have additional guidelines. If you are unable to create a Sitemap, you can still add your site to your Google webmaster tools account to view statistics and errors for it.

The formats available for Sitemap files are:
Sitemap protocol This is an open-source Google-created protocol in XML format. A Sitemap file that uses the Sitemap protocol can contain a list of URLs for your site, along with useful information about those URLs. You can use the Google Sitemap Generator to create a Sitemap that uses this protocol, or you can create it manually or use a third-party generation tool. Google recommends this protocol, since it's scalable and it enables you to provide specific information to Google about each of your URLs (such as when each page was last modified and which pages have the highest priority).

OAI-PMH (Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting) This is an application-independent interoperability framework based on metadata harvesting. Generally, you would use this format only if you already have a site that uses this protocol. You can't use this format for Mobile Sitemaps.

Syndication feed Google accepts RSS (Real Simple Syndication) 2.0 and Atom 0.3 feeds. Generally, you would use this format only if your site already has a syndication feed. Note that the feed may only provide information on recent URLs.

Text file You can provide Google with a simple text file that contains one URL per line. However, Google recommends that once you have a text sitemap file for your site, you use the Sitemap Generator to create a Sitemap from this text file using the Sitemap protocol. You can then edit this file to provide additional information about your URLs such as when they were last modified and how often they change.
Once you have created your Sitemap, you can add it to your Google Sitemaps account and update it as your site changes.

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