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Google Sitemaps

I finally got around to playing with Google’s new Sitemaps service. Google unveiled the service last June as a way to create better communication between the search engine and the websites it crawls. The service requires that you create an XML file that lists all the individual web pages on your website, the frequency with which they’re updated, and the priority you give the page relative to your entire website. After you’ve created your XML file, you upload it to your website, open a Sitemap account at Google, and submit the file. Google will then visit that file, tell you if it had andy trouble reading it, and, hopefully, include your pages in their database.

Don’t worry if you don’t know XML. There are plenty of tools out there that will create a sitemap for you. I used the very nice online Google Sitemap generator at XML-Sitemaps.com. You just plug in your website address, tell it how freqently your pages change, what priority you assign your pages, and the type of modification date you want to use and click, it sucks the individual pages from your site and puts it all in to self-generated XML code.

You don’t really have to mess with the code, but you’ll probably want to. The generator assigns the frequency and priority of pages uniformly throughout it’s generated code. Since most sites have some pages that are frequently updated, some not much so, and some none at all, you’ll probably want to alter the code accordingly.

Open up your generated sitemaps.xml file in a text editor and take a look at the code. It’s pretty self explanatory, so you should be able to do it easily enough yourself. If you have any questions, Google’s Sitemaps FAQ should have the answers.

If you have a small site that’s well listed in Google, it’s probably not worth the effort. But Google is the most descriminating of the search engines, so if you have a large site and are finding it difficult to get listed well in Google, this is supposed to help.

As I said, I just started playing with it but I’ll let you know how it works out.

Update 10/05: If you’re using TypePad for your blog, you can easily create a Google Sitemap by following Niall Kennedy’s instructions.

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About David Erickson

David Erickson is principal of e-Strategy Media, a digital marketing consultancy based in Minnesota. David has extensive experience in digital marketing and is often used as an expert source by media and asked to speak on the topic before organizations and to sit on panel discussions.

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