Using XML Site Maps for SEO

By Steve Hoenisch

An XML Site Map Helps Search Engines Index Web Pages

Creating an XML site map for SEO can contribute to improving your search engine rankings.

As a URL inclusion protocol, an XML site map notifies search engines about URLs on your web site that can be crawled. The map includes information about each page in your site, such as when a page was last updated, the frequency with which a page typically changes, and how important a page is relative to other pages on the site. The information in an XML site map helps optimize the way search engines crawl and index your site.

Although an XML site map might not affect your search results on its own, it is a technique that should be employed, among many others, in a comprehensive SEO program. Together, all the small, detail-oriented changes that you string together, like adding an XML site map, will have an effect on your search engine rankings. The map helps ensure that all the pages you list in the map get crawled.

XML site maps have come under criticism for being an overrated SEO tool. The criticism, however, becomes valid only when you think of the maps as being a singular method for boosting results. They are not. Again, an XML site map is but one small and easy change that you should make to your web site as part of your SEO program -- it is the totality of all these changes that together can eventually have a substantial impact on your natural search results.

To automatically generate an XML site map, go to http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. Here's what one looks like:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9" 
xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance" 
xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9
http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
    <!-- created with Free Online Sitemap Generator
    www.xml-sitemaps.com  -->
    <url>
        <loc>http://www.criticism.com/</loc>
        <priority>1.00</priority>
        <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
    </url>
    <url>
        <loc>http://www.criticism.com/map.php</loc>
        <priority>0.90</priority>
        <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
    </url>
    <url>
        <loc>http://www.criticism.com/map.html</loc>
        <priority>0.90</priority>
        <lastmod>2008-11-25T05:24:10+00:00</lastmod>
        <changefreq>daily</changefreq>
    </url>
    <url>
        <loc>http://www.criticism.com/md/weber1.html</loc>
        <priority>0.80</priority>
        <lastmod>2006-05-09T05:18:20+00:00</lastmod>
        <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
    </url>
    <url>
        <loc>http://www.criticism.com/da/lw_da.html</loc>
        <priority>0.80</priority>
        <lastmod>2006-05-09T05:22:41+00:00</lastmod>
        <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
    </url>

After the XML site map is created, name it sitemap.xml, and place it in your root public HTML folder so search engines can find it.

Then, submit it to Google by using a Google webmaster account, which you can set up at http://www.google.com/services/.

For more information about XML site maps, see http://www.sitemaps.org/End Icon

-- Steve Hoenisch

Document Icon Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Techniques

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Document Icon Structuring Documents with XML

Document Icon Tagging DocBook XML Documents for Search Engine Optimization

External Link Icon http://www.sitemaps.org/

First Published: Oct. 7, 2011. Last Updated: Oct. 7, 2011.


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