A sitemap is exactly what it sounds like: a tool that maps out your website for visitors and search engines in very simple language. Sitemaps can be especially helpful for sites that use a lot of JavaScript, Flash, or images to assist with navigation. Not only will it make things easier for search engines, but it can help visitors find the information or pages that they need quickly and easily.

HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps are the two main types available. The XML was created by Google in 2005 as a way to specifically list all the site pages for the search engines.

Creating your own XML sitemap isn’t difficult. Sites running on WordPress can find a variety of plugins to assist with XML creation. There are also free tools online like xml-sitemaps.com, where you can generate sitemaps for any website quickly and easily. Aside from the basic webpage sitemap, you can also create:

  • News sitemaps
  • Video and image sitemaps

Once you’ve created your sitemaps, you should add them to your robots.txt file, which usually can be found in the root folder. You can do this by adding the following line:

Submitting to Google and Bing

You can visit Google Webmaster Central and add your sitemap to your existing website by clicking on the link to the site and choosing the sitemaps menu. Here, you can enter the file name and Google will update the information within a matter of a few days.

Bing also has a Webmaster tool available, where website owners can create a free account and add their website to the Bing search results. You can add the URL of the sitemap in the “About My Website” section, and the information will be updated.

You’ll also get plenty of useful data and analytics here, including indexing statistics, blocked URLs, crawling errors and statistics, and more when you create a Webmaster account at Google and Bing. If nothing else, having that sitemap is important to ensure that the website is properly searched and indexed online.