What are sitemaps? According to a defintion found at sitemaps.org
“Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.”
The points of emphasis are mine.
So in essence a sitemap is similar to the table of contents of a book.
I don’t know many people that make use of sitemaps when on a site – that’s why CMS systems like WordPress make setting up a site and managing it so easy — they include features, like SEARCH to allow visitors to find what they need without searching through l-o-n-g sitemaps.
I’m sure on static sites, sitemaps are used and advertised so that visitors can see what’s available.
But can you imagine a blog that’s been around for 3 years and has 100,000 PLUS POSTS! Would YOU want to go through a sitemap looking for something?
Sitemaps help search engines find out what’s on your site, rather than having them try and figure it out themselves. The SE bots are smart, but why not make their job easier?
Creating a sitemap is easy.
Here’s how you do it:
Create the listing on a notepad.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a notepad. Any word processing program will do. First off, make sure to type in all the parts and pieces of your website. Include all pages and all links you have. Create it as if you listing the contents of your book. Make a draft first. You’re sure no to miss something out this way.
WTF …uh, if you’re creating your sitemap in Notepad, friend – you are in the wrong business! Creating a sitemap for your WordPress blog is EASY!
Try doing all this in Notepad:
- Generates automatically a sitemap for all types of WordPress pages
- Calculates a priority for each post, based on the number of comments
- Notifies Ask.com, Google, MSN Live Search and YAHOO about changes via ping
- Includes a WordPress filter for other plugins which can add their pages to the sitemap
- Generates a static XML file as well as a zipped version
Yah, I didn’t think Notepad could do all that without A LOT of manual intervention from you.
Step 2 – Install
Step 3 – Configure. For the most part, you shouldn’t need to do anything once this has been installed. You can certainly tweak it – and doing so is very easy. There is absolutely nothing cryptic or confusing about how this plug-in works.
The nice thing with this plugin is that when you go to the options page, you can tell when the sitemap was last generated and the SE’s that were notified about any changes to the sitemap. Since the sitemap is an XML file and is stored on your site you can even look at it inside of something like Notepad, Textpad or from within the browser.
If you like punishment and are just a bid sadistic, you could try and create a sitemap manually – but you’re on your own if you want to do it manually!