Have you ever tried making a sitemap? I am going to show you today how to get started with your very own sitemap without being too technical.

If you have a website then a sitemap is a vital part of your site as it not only allows user to navigate through all the pages of your site, but it also allows Google and other search engines to index your pages and navigation of your website.

What does a sitemap look like?

Formats for a sitemap vary between those that web users actually see on the site and the XML sitemaps that we use to submit to search engines, like Google and Yahoo.

Standard HTML sitemaps

Standard sitemaps that people visit when they click on your “sitemap” button are visual sitemaps that allow your customers to navigate through the various sections of your website.  These types of sitemaps are simple to make, your web designer can help you with that.  They need to be clear and easy to read, and not just a complete list of your web pages.  Consider making easy to follow sections to reduce confusion.

Standard XML sitemaps perfect for SEO purposes and submitting to Google Sitemaps

Standard XML sitemaps

XML sitemaps are what we use to submit our URL structure to Google and other search engines.  Generally they are formatted in the following way:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?><urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>

<url>
<loc>https://www.islandmediamanagement.com/</loc>
<changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
<lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
<priority>1.00</priority>
</url>

<url>
<loc>https://www.islandmediamanagement.com/more_pages.php</loc>
<changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
<lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
<priority>1.00</priority>

</url>

</urlset>

Let’s have a look at each item:

<urlset> – Encapsulates the file and references the current protocol standard.

<url> – Parent tag for each URL entry.   You would then add all of your child pages into the sitemap.

<loc> – URL of the page. This URL must begin with http://…..

<lastmod> – (OPTIONAL) The date of last modification of the file.

<changefreq> – (OPTIONAL) How frequently the page is likely to change. This value provides general information to search engines and may not relate to how often search engines crawl the page.  Suitable values that you can use would be:

– always
– hourly
– daily
– weekly
– monthly
– yearly
– never

The value “always” should be used to describe documents that change each time they are accessed. The value “never” should be used to describe archived URLs.

<priority> – (OPTIONAL) The priority of this URL relative to other URLs on your site. Valid values range from 0.0 to 1.0. This value lets search engines know which pages you deem most important and have no influence on how your pages rank in the search engines.

The default priority of a page is 0.5.

Yoast SEO Sitemap is easy to use and effective for SEO

Making Sitemaps easy

A great tool that we use at Island Media Management to create sitemaps is a plugin for our WordPress site called Yoast SEO.

Having a WordPress site allows you to add plugins like Yoast to your site.  This great little plugin then produces sitemaps for you.

Yoast is easy to set up and use for anyone with basic knowledge of WordPress.  The end result is that you get multiple sitemaps for your posts, pages, categories, pot tags, images, etc.

This is how a final Yoast XML sitemap looks like in WordPress - excellent for SEO purposes

You can then use these sitemaps to submit into Google Webmaster tools.

Submitting sitemaps

Google has a great tool for submitting xml sitemaps that will not only submit your sitemaps but will also test them to ensure there are no errors in the sitemap itself.

Of course you need to have access to your Google Webmaster tools account and then had into the sitemap section to submit your sitemap.

It is very important to keep an eye on webmaster tools periodically as it will report on errors with your sitemap and your website in general.

If you have anything to add and any questions to ask then feel free to comment or email me direct.