Looking to boost your targeted traffic without spending more on paid advertising?
Creating a Sitemap for your website is one of the easiest and most effective online marketing tasks you can do. It's easy, doesn't require much technical knowledge, and can boost site traffic leading to increased sales. Best of all, it is a Search Engine Optimization task that Google actually recommends.
That's right. Here's a summary from the Google Webmaster Tools site:
“Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process.”
So what is a Sitemap?
It is an XML file containing information about your site. By submitting an up-to-date Sitemap to search engines, you aren't relying on external links to bring Google, Yahoo!, Bing and Ask to your site. It's akin to saying, 'here are all of my pages that you should visit.' Google will use your Sitemap to learn about your site's structure which helps it do a better job crawling it.
Be aware, however, that simply submitting a Sitemap doesn't guarantee that all of your pages will be crawled and indexed. Google, for example, does not crawl or index image URLs. Nor is a Sitemap a band-aid for poorly optimized sites.
Sitemaps are particularly helpful for:
+ Sites with pages featuring rich content e.g. AJAX or images that aren't easily discovered by bots during the crawl process
+ New sites with few inbound links
+ Existing sites with lots of archived pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all
+ Sites that frequently add or delete pages
Three Steps to Using a Sitemap
+ Updating your robots.txt file
+ Search engine notification
To create a Sitemap, you can choose from a wide variety of free and paid software programs or web services. You can either download and install a Sitemap generating application or use an online service. After creating a Sitemap, maximize its effectiveness by pointing to it from your robots.txt file. The robots.txt file is the first stop for search engines whenever they crawl your site. Online Sitemap services such as AutomaticSiteMap automatically handle the third step, notification, so you don't have to manually submit one.
+ Make sure that your robots.txt file points to your Sitemap, wherever it is hosted
+ Update your Sitemap every time you add or delete pages
+ Website and blog hosted on two different domains? Create Sitemaps for both
+ If your site is new or if you have a significant number of new or recently updated pages, using a Sitemap can be a vital shortcut to your success