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Creating Sitemaps For Google, MSN AND Yahoo!

If you own or maintain a web site or intend to own one, wouldn't it be great if you get frequent visitors who find satisfaction in getting exactly the information they need from your page?

While that satisfaction largely depends on the contents of your web site, how you get to be accessed by web site users is the most critical factor of web site development. For if your web site can't be reached universally, you defeat the very purpose of the internet: that is, to make information available to any web site user from across the world.

How you get to be accessed is actually a matter of presentation style, organization, and most importantly, how fast and extensive search engines get to lead users to your web site. Unless your pages are indexed in the search engines they can't send you the free visitors you are all looking for.

Fortunately, the search engines want your content too and there are a number of ways you can help them, which they encourage you to do - by creating sitemaps of your web site. Sitemaps created for the various search engines will enable these search engines' spiders to crawl faster, more systematically, and more extensively into your web site's pages.

By doing so, you get the maximum exposure you can. Such exposure will boost your pride in having your pages viewed, read, and used by more and more visitors the way you intended them to. On the financial aspect, the more visitors your web site gets, the higher your web site's potential advertising value.

Now with the vast expansion of web sites on the internet, it has become necessary to create different types of sitemaps, each having its own complexity in setting up.

HTML Sitemaps

Creating an HTML sitemap linked to and from your home page is something savvy webmasters have been doing for years and perhaps is the simplest to create. This sitemap is simply a list of pages contained on your site and enables the search engines spiders to easily find your pages, especially the ones that are linked deep in your web site that they may have trouble finding otherwise.

TEXT Sitemaps

A text sitemap is simply a list of the URLs of your site in the form of a text file. These can then be submitted to search engines such as Yahoo! to notify them that all the pages exist and by doing so invites their spider to visit.

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XML Sitemaps

Google launched Google Sitemaps as a way for webmasters to give them information they could use to better crawl their sites. This involves creating an XML Sitemap for which they provided their Google Sitemap Generator. This can be the most complicated to set up using the tools provided by Google as you need to be running Python on your server. It's perhaps the most important one too given the current dominance of the search engine.

Setting up all three types of sitemaps may seem a daunting task but luckily there are web sites that take the strain out of this and you can create all three within a matter of minutes.

XML-Sitemaps.com is one such site. Originally developed to easily create Google sitemaps for webmasters without an understanding of Python, it has evolved through demand for new features.

It offers the Sitemap Generator that lets you build your sitemap online in four simple steps, for free! The Sitemap Generator is easy to use and user-friendly even for average computer literates. Just type in your URL and other parameters (e.g. frequency of change or update that your web site will likely undergo, the priority of a specific URL relative to the other pages on the same web site, etc.) and follow the ensuing instructions until you get to add your URL to the Google Webmaster account. You will then be given the options to download your web sites sitemaps in XML, HTML and TXT format. If still you get stuck with a step, you may enquire and get assistance from its technical support.

Go check xml-sitemaps.com for more details or better yet, to get started!

The only limitation of the free sitemap Generator is that it allows only up to 500 pages per web site. Still, this limit is high. Statistics show that out of the more than 64000 sitemaps generated using this service, the average web site size was only 155 pages, way below the 500-page limit. This figure is represented by 78% of all webmasters who have used the Generator.

However, in case your web site falls beyond this limit, you may check out the PHP Sitemap generator script. Offered at a very reasonable price, this stand-alone script is intended for unlimited-sized sitemaps, which is beyond the capacity of online services.

Whichever search engine or for whatever search purpose, sitemaps are clearly the fastest and most efficient way to navigate this digital highway. The best thing about it is, with these easy-to-use sitemap generators, you don't have to be a computer geek to help keep this internet traffic moving.

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Philip Nicosia is the webmaster of XML-Sitemaps.com, a site specialising in sitemap software that generates XML, HTML and TXT sitemaps for webmasters.

GOOGLE SITEMAPS EXPLAINED

Once again Google is taking the lead at making their search engine results the most relevant in the industry. With Google sitemaps webmasters don't have to wait for spiders to index their sites. Google sitemap empowers the Webmaster to submit page links pertaining to sites through one sitemap page. And what's great about this process is that when you add other pages to your site, all you need to do is add those pages to the sitemap file produced by Google. Google. Will even help you debug problems with your pages.

Now you might ask: Does this program replace Google's normal methods of crawling the web? Google has stated that this program does not replace their normal methods of crawling the web. Sitemaps just gives Google additional information about sites that they would or may not have discovered otherwise.

Will this process increase time to index? Google has also stated that since sitemaps is a Beta program they cannot guarantee when or if URLs will be crawled or added to their index.

So how would I participate in this program? I am glad you asked this question. First, access is free, yes free. Any site owner can participate in the Google sitemaps program. Site owners with single page sites to owners with millions of ever changing pages. Now lets get into the fun part, creating a sitemap. There are a number of ways to create sitemaps using the sitemap protocol.

1. If the majority of your site is a HTML static file or your URLs can be found in your access Logs or if you have a text file that contains a list of URLs in your site, you can use the Google sitemap generator.

2. If the majority of your site is dynamic URLs and may not show up in your access logs, you can generate a list of URLs as a text file and then use the Google sitemap generator.

3. You may not be able to use the Google sitemap generator. In this case you may be able to use a third party tool to create a sitemap.

4. Create the file manually or use a script based on the sitemap protocol that extracts dynamic content as URLs and includes information such as last modified date for those URLs. Once you sitemap is complete its time to place the file on your site. You must place the completed sitemap in the highest directory that you would like Google to crawl. Why is this so? Because Google can only accept URLs contained in your sitemap that are the same directory level or lower. If you only have access to sub directories place the sitemap at the tip most directory you have access and ensure the URLs listed in the sitemap are at that level or lower.

Now add the sitemap to your sitemap account and your all done. Its as easy as that. Things to keep in mind

1. A sitemap can contain a list of URLs or a list of sitemaps.

2. If your sitemap file contains a list of other sitemaps then you should save the sitemap file as a sitemap index file and use XML format provided for that file type.

3. A sitemap file can only contain no more than 50,000 URLs. If your site ahs more than 50,000 URLs then split up the URLs into smaller sitemap files and link them together.

4. Completely specify each URL

That's it you're done. Enjoy the new traffic.

Kenneth Elliott is the owner of Market Associate, ISaved Home Decor and Designer Handbags web sites. He helps real people realize their dreams of a successful affiliate experience. Discover why so many have found their ideal business with Kenneth Elliott today.

Sitemaps 101 - Benefits of and Tips on Designing a Sitemap

Have you ever wondered how a search engine works? It must be fascinating figuring out how this search tool could direct you to several web sites that are relevant to your keywords. Or, have you experienced instances where the link that supposedly contains your keywords is not exactly what you have in mind? You would probably think that there must be something wrong with the search engine that it generated irrelevant results.

How does a search engine work? Two things figure greatly in making search engines work effectively and efficiently: the electronic search spider and the sitemap.

What is a sitemap? A sitemap is basically a page or pages that serve/s as a directory by listing all the links to all documents and files found in a web site. It is not merely a random listing of links, but organized in such a way that it gives the web user an idea of how all the information that can be found in the site fits into an outline or framework. It is like viewing the table of contents of a book, or viewing the "concept map" of the site's content.

What is a spider? In SEO language, spider is not an animal found in your closet. This electronic search spider is actually a bot which collects data and copies content to be stored in the search engine's database when keywords are fed into the search dialogue box. The spider reads the content of the site and sends another bot to follow the links and copy the content contained in them.

What purpose does a sitemap serve? A sitemap like any other map gives directions to a navigator. It primarily targets search engine spiders so that they are properly directed to your site and to the links where keywords entered in the search dialogue appears. As such, it is actually a useful tool in search engine optimization. A well organized site map would guide the spider to find the information it needs when keywords are entered during a search operation.

As an additional beneficial consequence, sitemaps have proven to be useful even to web users. Since a sitemap displays all the links to information found in a web site, it helps the user to search for a particular topic in mind. Many users also use the sitemap to navigate between pages in a site.

What are the benefits of having a sitemap for my web site?

1.No page would be left unturned Going back to the purpose of sitemaps, having one would mean faster and easier tracking and crawling of spiders all over your site. As a result, search engines would surely get to the view all the pages of your site and not just the pages containing random keywords.

2.Easier navigation for site visitors Once a web user has accessed your sitemap, they need not go back to the search engine page to look for what they need. If what they are looking for is in your site, then they would have an easier and faster way of locating it.

3.Potential advertising value If it so happens that a relevant product or service company reaches your site, then it would be easier for them to see how best they can position themselves in the different pages of your site as a paid page advertisement.

4.Encourage greater traffic to your site If your company web site has a sitemap then potential buyers would have an easier time in accessing your latest products and services. Moreover, they would not miss out on any product that might be off future interest to them since the sitemap would display all information found the site.

How are sitemaps formatted? There are at least three major types of sitemaps: indexed, full categorical, and restricted categorical. An indexed site map appears as an alphabetical listing or directory. A full categorical map displays all links classified into categories; while a restricted categorical sitemap displays all links listed in a chosen category at a time. The full and restricted sitemaps are very similar except that the former displays all links in all categories all at once in a page, while the latter focuses only the links under the selected category for easier and less eye-straining viewing.

The most widely used format is the full categorical. Based on the results of a 1999 SURL study on sitemap designs, the full categorical format is most preferred by users since it is easier to search for topics within the site and it allows easier comparison between and among categories.

Some tips in setting up your sitemap

1.Link the sitemap only to your homepage. This is to ensure that the spider starts searching from your homepage down to all the pages listed in your sitemap. In this way, no page would be left unvisited by the spider.

2.Do not go beyond 30 pages for a sitemap. Large web sites having 50 or more pages should not go beyond 30 since this adds more pages to the site, and might make search engines think that the sitemap is a link farm. Also, this prevents overcrowding of links which could be tiring to view.

3.Check all the links listed in your sitemap. It can be discouraging when you click on a link only to find out that nothing is displayed. Test your sitemap; click all links in every page to make sure that all links are indeed linked to the right page.

4.Give keyword-rich titles to sitemap links. Keyword-rich titles give your site more advantage in being searched properly under the right category. But be sure to have this sitemap link linked back to the sitemap (e.g. back to sitemap).

5.Provide a short description for the links in the sitemap. Doing so would give readers a better idea of what to find in the link and save them time on surfing.

6.Be consistent in designing your sitemap with the other pages of the site. Employ a recurring design and the same HTML template for all pages to establish identity and build character to your web site.

Now that you have learned basic things about sitemaps, maybe it is time for you to build one for your site.

Jeremiah Patton has been currently using sitemaps for easy navigation for visitors and for better crawling from search engines. Jeremiah Patton uses a sitemap for his work at home moms web site http://www.2ndincome4u.com with great success.

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