Leon Anavi
IT Tips && Tricks


Created: 21.08.2009 18:47 Last Modified: 22.08.2009 00:55 Views: 8077
Keywords: Bing, Google, SEO, Sitemaps, XML, Yahoo

Achieve Search Engine Optimization with Sitemaps


Sitemap is a list of pages of a web site. The purpose of a sitemap is to provide information to a crawler and to achive search engine optimization. It is recommended for new or not popular sites.


Basically a sitemap is a text file which includes links to the pages of the site. There are two file formats:
  • txt file - each line is a link. Simple solution which is easy to maintain.
  • XML - Extensible Markup Language is created exactly for this kind of tasks.

The Sitemaps Protocol

A set of rules defined at an XML schema. The protocol has been developed with the collaboration of Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft. Details are available at http://www.sitemaps.org/. The worlds most popular search engines Google and Bing had appoved and use the Sitemaps protocol. The webmaster can submit sitemaps to Google using the Webmasters tool.

Tag Definition

The XML Sitemaps Protocol 0.90 provides six tags to describe an URL:
  • urlset - It is required and it is used as a root tag.
  • url - Required tag for each entry.
  • loc - Required tag for the URL of the entry.
  • lastmod - Optional tag with last modified date. The format must be: YYYY-MM-DD
  • changefreq - Optional tag which shows how often is the page content changed. Permitted values are: always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, never.
  • priority - Optional tag with value of the page priority from 0.0 to 1.0. Default priority is set to 0.5.
The sitemaps should be considered as hints not commands because there are no guarantees that the crawler will obey the sitemap information. A Sitemap XML file can contain up to 50 000 URLs.

Submitting Sitemaps

After creation of a sitemap file the search engine should be notified for its existence. A sitemap can be submitted by:
  • Manual submit - Add the sitemaps using tools provided by the search engine such as Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Using robots.txt - Provides the advantage to have a sitemap which is always up to date. The sitemap file should be automatically updated on every change of site content. Modify the robots.txt and add a directive to point the sitemap file.

    Example robots.txt

    Sitemap: http://example.com/sitemap.xml

Further Reading and Examples

Sitemaps XML format
Sitemaps FAQ
Google Webmaster Tools
Bing Webmaster Center

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