How to Properly Create Sitemaps

Whether you’re setting up a new website or planning to start a redesign project, you need to have a proper sitemap set up to help your pages get indexed in the search engines. Sitemaps also help the search engines find pages of your site that cannot be found through your navigation links. Every now and then, a visitor may even use it to find a page on your site that is relevant to what they are looking for. This is the perfect example of a sitemap improving user experience.

Okay, now you understand the importance of sitemaps, but how do you properly create one? The best way to go about the process is to create a Google account and sign in to Google webmaster tools at:

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Google will give you instructions to verify your site. Once you finish the verification process, you can finally start by entering the name of your site and the URL. To begin creating a sitemap, click on the sitemap section and then enter your root domain name. Save the sitemap and download the file so that you can upload it to your server.

Jot down the URL of where your sitemap was uploaded and go log back in to Google webmaster tools. Add the sitemap file by entering the URL and clicking on “add sitemap.” Google will start to go through your site and start adding all your pages to create a sitemap for you. There are also other sitemap tools that build a sitemap for you. The process is similar and just as effective.

Most of the process is automatic but there are certain that you will probably need to do manually. For instance, if you have a page that isn’t linked directly, you will have to manually add it to the sitemap XML file. You need to add both versions of your URLs if you use HTTP and HTTPS. You also need to make sure that you go through your sitemap XML file and remove URLs with session IDs (like affiliate links) as they can result in a lot of errors.

In conclusion, setting up sitemaps can be a little confusing but they are immensely helpful to a SEO campaign. For example, a content marketing campaign designed to generate backlinks can be made more effective with a sitemap because it will help the content get indexed quicker, especially in situations where there is no direct link to the page. The bottom line is that there is value in setting up a sitemap.