This article is aimed at helping small business or new webmasters easily generate a site map.Then submitting it to the search engines to increase traffic. If you aren’t sure why, how or where you can create a sitemap, I’m here to help. I hold your hand and help you all the way. I will even create it for you if you get stuck.
In summary you will learn the following in this article:
There may be a couple of reasons you want to generate a sitemap. Initially sitemaps were there to help visitors navigate your pages especially to find the hidden gems, but as CMS’s like WordPress help organise this through a good menu systems, breadcrumb trails, consistent templates, categories and tags, the sitemap is less important to a visitor. So the sitemap html has become less important and you are probably looking to generate a sitemap in XML instead. We cover both below and many of the tools we recommend will create both types for you.
To build a sitemap for Google or Bing or pretty much all search engines, you are best to submit it in an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) file from your webroot. (your webroot is the starting point of your website, e.g. www.mywebsite.com) Google can still accept it in html format if required. Most of the tools that automatically generate your sitemap will use XML so I recommend we do this in our example.
In this paragraph let’s outline some of the benefits of an XML generated site map. Firstly it gives the search engines a clear indication of where you want their spiders to locate your most important pages. This is done with sitemap tags. If you have important content it gets a higher tag rating. The home page is generally given the highest priority of 1.0 secondly it’s essential if you want to work with the search engines and you update your content regularly. Search engines discover your content by crawling more efficiently using the XML format. This helps keep your site and hierarchy organised and enables a better efficient use of the spider’s resources. Thirdly spiders have a set mileage, so the sitemap gives them a clear indication of the direct route to new areas of the site rather than the spider wasting fuel on the same roads. If you use the older html sitemaps, it tends to only cater as a visual link hierarchy for human visitors.
To generate your sitemap if you are using WordPress, then we recommend using one of these plugins. If you have one of these plugins already installed on your site, then try using the sitemap facility rather than add another plugin. Why do I say that? Because creating more than one sitemap can cause conflict issues, it’s not good practice. Also, having more plugins than necessary can dramatically slow your web site loading times (not good in search engines terms).
Google XML Sitemaps
With this tool, creating sitemaps is free and easy. The Google XML sitemap is the best solution if you don’t have Yoast or All in one SEO pack installed. It’s extremely basic and probably considered by sEO gurus too simple. But if you are starting out and want a no fuss solution, this works well with all other plugins.
Yoast XML Sitemap plugin
Yoast in the past has clashed with other sitemap plugins, its perfect if you stick with Yoast alone and with it huge amount of other SEO benefits its worthy of the plugin isolation
To get your XML sitemap link, visit the General page and select the Features tab. Where you will have the option to enable and disable the sitemap.
All in One SEO Pack
All in One SEO pack is often the alternative to Yoast for SEO geeks. I found the plugin to be fine, but isn’t as visually pleasing as Yoast. Before starting out, you will need the XML sitemap features enables. Switching it on is easy enough. You can find it under the Feature Manager area. Then click activate under the XML sitemaps extension.
XML-Sitemaps is my favorite HTML online sitemaps. Like most free versions there is a limit of 500 pages to crawl which would be more than enough for the majority of small business websites. The software has quite a few other tools and options. What I like with this website is it feels current, maintained and works very smoothly. It even tells you where to put the sitemap and gives you the choice of taking the XML or HTML version.
MySitemapGenerator is a browser-based sitemap generator that works with up to 500-page websites. It has advanced features that you can pay for and not only does HTML but also offers Mobile and XML sitemaps. It is ideal for small business that only have a medium size site to index. Just enter your website base URL fill in your email and captcha details and the software will take care of everything else. The service is free to use, unless you want advanced settings.
Enarion created a sitemap tool called phpSitemapNG. They have made it freely available via their website link above. The tool is a free server side sitemap generator which produces HTML-based sitemaps of your website. It uses a GPL license. The sitemap software is no longer maintained but still works fine last time it was tested. It’s very basic, but does the job.
Let’s presume you have already setup your site in Google’s Search Console. If not you will find this Search Console guide really helpful. On the left hand side of the menu under index, it asks for you to submit your sitemap or you can review them if this has been done previously.
You can create and generate sitemaps with ease. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you feel confident adding plugins and setting up Google Search Console, then you should find one of the above popular plugins really useful, feel free to let me know if my comments how you got on. If you still feel overwhelmed by the thought, then contact me and I will get this sorted for you in no time at all.