SEO

Create an XML sitemap! (How to help search engines find your content)

This post will walk you through a step-by-step process to create an XML sitemap.

Sitemaps are great to make sure all of the information on your website can be found by search engines. It is one of the simplest SEO techniques that can help you boost your organic site growth.

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is an XML file that describes the structure of your website. When a search engine is crawling through the content of your website a sitemap provides full information about all the pages that the website has.

In other words, a sitemap is literally a map of your site that you show to the individual search engines to make sure they find their way to all of your posts and pages.

Do I need a sitemap?

Absolutely! And here’s why:

  • We all want our blog to be seen (why are we here otherwise?) and creating a sitemap is the fastest way to make sure the search engines find it
  • All of the information can be found straight away. Search engines only “crawl” the web at a certain frequency and your news and updates may go unnoticed for a while. By creating and submitting your sitemap to a search engine you will ensure that the updates are seen on search results virtually straight away

How to create a sitemap?

There are two main ways to create a sitemap:

  1. Manually write one in XML
  2. Use one of the automated online services to create a sitemap for you

It is possible to write your own sitemap. If you do want to study the ins and outs of manually creating a sitemap, then the best place to do that is on the www.sitemap.org website.

For the rest of us there are three easy steps for creating your sitemap:

  1. Go to one of the free sitemap generators. We used http://www.web-site-map.com/index.php This is a simple free service that creates sitemaps and will alert you if you have dead or invalid links on your site.
  2. You will see the following window:
Online XML Sitemap Generator
Select the domain name you want to create a sitemap for

3. Enter your web address (AKA URL or domain name) into the field provided and press “Get free XML Sitetmap” and you will proceed to the following screen:

Online XML Sitemap Generator Step 2
Check the settings and create your XML Sitemap

4. Put the security code into the verification box to make the system aware you are not a robot. It is unlikely you will need to change the pre-filled settings if you are just starting our with your website so leave them well alone and press “Create free XML Sitemap”. You will need to wait for a few seconds to allow the system to work through all the pages and posts you have on your website. When ready you will see the following message at the bottom of the page:

Create free XML Sitemap step 3
Download the file containing your sitemap to your computer

Press “Download your site map” link at the bottom of the page for the file to be saved on your device.

That’s it! You now have a sitemap that you can file with all the search engines.

What to do with your new sitemap?

Now that you have a sitemap, you need to:

  1. Add it to the root directory of your site, and
  2. Submit it to the search engines.

Add the sitemap to your website:

Place the file “sitemap.xml” into the root directory of your website.

If you already know how to add files to your website through your hosting provider control panel, then go ahead and do it now.

If you are doing this for the first time or feel you need a little guidance on how to add files to your website, then you can follow our step-by-step post on how to add/remove files to your site.

Submit the sitemap to the search engines:

When we think about search engines it’s Google hat comes to mind. I will use Google as an example of how to submit a sitemap to a search engine.

It is a good idea to submit your sitemap to other search engines as well. Follow the links below to submit your sitemap to the various search engines:

  1. Google
  2. Bing
  3. Yahoo
  4. Yandex
  5. DuckDuckGo
  6. Baidu
  7. Kvazir
  8. Ask

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