I’m a business girl. Leads, negotiating, sales… those are the things I do. Technology? I try to leave most of that stuff to my business partner, Laura, but I’m willing to learn when it means better business.
Fortunately, one of my first lessons, years ago, was in the importance of creating a Sitemap. Like many business owners, I didn’t think I needed a Sitemap. After all, aren’t those just for hyper-organized tech junkies? No, actually. No, they are not.
Sitemap: Nuts And Bolts
Let’s keep it simple, and go to the Google support pages for a definition. Google defines Sitemaps as “a list of the pages on your website.” Why is that important? Three reasons. It tells Google:
- How your website is organized.
- How your website functions.
- How to sort and categorize your traffic.
For small online businesses, those are three pretty important things. Basically, you provide Google with this information, and Google has a better idea of what to do with you on the Internet (i.e. how to get you traffic that actually matters).
Two Types of Site Maps
Of course, the one you give to Google looks totally different than the one that a normal human can read. Google receives an XML sitemap from you. (Yes, really: you. It’s not that hard!) But, your website visitors might want to poke around on a readable site index to get a better idea of what is going on with your website.
How to Build Your XML Sitemap
All you have to do is plug in your URL and fiddle around with some settings. For beginners, the only setting I would recommend adjusting is the “Change Frequency” setting. If you blog daily – especially if you blog multiple times a day – then you should adjust your frequency to “Hourly.”
Click “Start,” sit back, and wait. Save the .xml file once it’s finished, and plug it in.
How to Plug In Your .xml File
Plugging in your .xml file is easy. Open up your web server, and copy and paste your file into the top-most directory above everything else. Next time Google crawlers pass through your site for indexing, they’ll pick up your XML Sitemap, meaning you’re in business.
To submit it to Google, go to Google’s Webmaster Tools, click the ‘Optimization’ tab, and then click ‘Sitemaps.’ Other search engines have their own XML Sitemap submission methods, which are just as (or almost as) easy.
Not too hard, is it? Have questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
This is one basic tech skill your online business can’t afford to miss out on.
Sitemap Photo via Shutterstock