A sitemap is a list of pages on a web site used by search engine crawlers (or bots) to access and index each page. Sitemaps are also used by visitors to search for topics visually via a list of page titles. Sitemaps designed for search engines lists all linked pages in an XML file while a properly formatted HTML sitemap presents visitors with an organized, formatted list of content.
If you operate a web site that currently has no site map, you can generate one using free online services. Let’s begin by manually creating a sitemap by using an online service and then install it on your web server.
If you are interested in the technical details of site maps, visit SiteMaps.org for the open source protocol for creating sitemaps accepted by Bing and Google. This information is quite technical and not totally necessary for everyone to know since many online tools and web site sitemap plugins take care of these technical details for you.
Create your sitemap by visiting XML Sitemaps.com. This free tool enables you to configure and download a sitemap to your computer. All you have to do is enter the URL to your site, generate the sitemap, and download the file to your computer.
After you have downloaded the site map file to your computer, use your FTP tool to access your web host account. Locate the root folder of your web site and upload the sitemap XML file to that folder (usually public_html).
Check your sitemap by pointing your browser to http://yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml. If your file is installed correctly you, should see it load in your browser. That is all you have to do, but for better results add the sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Webmaster Tools and Sitemaps
Use your search engine webmaster account (Google or Bing) to add the sitemap URL. Again, the sitemap tells the search engines about your web site’s structure, which enables them to improve their crawler schedule and do a better job indexing your site. If you do not have these any of these accounts, I strongly recommend getting one setup for each to improve your search rankings.
Visit Bing to learn about how Bing uses sitemaps and read the instructions on how to add your sitemap to Bing. If you are wondering about Yahoo!, in 2010 Bing Webmaster Tools integrated Yahoo Webmaster Tools into its environment.