A site map is a file that lists the pages of your website. The site map is a helper that search engines can use to crawl your website more efficiently. Site maps are usually located in the root directory of your website. The root directory can be found on the site server that most people rent from a website hosting provider like GoDaddy, 1and1, Bluehost, or Network Solutions (you get the picture).
What is an "XML sitemap"?
By placing a formatted xml file with site map on your webserver, you enable Search Engine crawlers (like Google) to find out what pages are present and which have recently changed, and to crawl your site accordingly.
How to create an "XML sitemap"
Before you can upload a sitemap, you need to have an XML site map. We use a sitemap generator website to generate sitemaps for our clients. XML-Sitemaps Generator works great and takes less than five minutes to create an XML sitemap that can be submitted to Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to help them crawl your website better. Here is the link to XML Sitemaps.com:
Where to put my "XML sitemap"?
After you have an XML site map generated, you will then upload it to your webserver – usually in the root folder. You can upload the XML site map by logging into your web hosting account and going to the file manager, navigating to the site root folder and then uploading the sitemap.
How often do I need to update my "XML sitemap"?
Your site map should be updated after you make major changes to your website. The new sitemap should replace the old sitemap. This means that you will have to remove the old site map and upload the new sitemap.
TIP: You should always name the new sitemap with the same name as the old one so you will not have to go to Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools to update the file name for the search engines.
How to tell Google, Bing, Yahoo and MSN how to access your sitemap.
Once you have your sitemap uploaded to your web hosting server, you’ll need to tell Google Bing and Yahoo that you have a site map to help them crawl your site. The search engines will need the address of your sitemap. If you generated a sitemap and uploaded it into your root folder, your sitemap address should read like this: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml with your website name in place of the "yoursite.com" part of the address. The search engines will check as you submit the address to see if they can access your website. They will let you immediately know if they found it. Once they can access your site map, the task is complete.
Here are the directions and links to submit your XML sitemaps to Google, Bing, Yahoo and MSN:
Submit your sitemap to Google: You will need to create a Google Webmaster Tools account first. Don’t worry, its free and easy to do. (Webmaster Tools section): http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=40318
Under Webmaster Tools, go to:>home> add site, verify, click on site >current status >sitemaps > no sitemap > add button. Then add your sitemap.
Submit your sitemap to Yahoo: Use this link to add your sitemap to Google, Bing and Yahoo:
Submit your sitemap to Bing: You may need to create a Bing Webmaster Tools account first. Don’t worry, its free and easy to do – just like Google Webmaster Tools.
Submit your sitemap to MSN.com: As of now, MSN.com doesn’t have a similar submission form. So to submit your sitemap, simply add the line listed below to your robots.txt file.
Provide the complete URL for your sitemap on this line, and MSN’s crawler will pick it up: Sitemap: http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml
The site map is a helper that search engines can use to crawl your website more efficiently. Adding a sitemap and submitting it to search engines is one of the tasks we do for our SEO clients at DeCarlo Studios.