So you’ve built your website and put it up online for the world to see. You have put your sales information, made an exciting offer, you have nice graphics and are just waiting now for people to find your site and buy your products.
The problem is that they can’t find you. They may be looking for exactly what you have to offer them but how do they know you are even there?
Well, part of the puzzle is a small file you put on your website called a "sitemap". Now before we go much further, let’s define what a sitemap actually is. First off, there are 2 different kinds of "sitemap". One is an html page on your website that has links to all the other pages in your site. Visitors to your site might use this page to find various areas of information on your website. You might have links in there to your information page, your questions and answers page, your contact page and so on. Many people are familiar with this and may even have used a sitemap on another website before.
There is also another form of this sitemap that you need to have on your page. Simply put it serves the same function as the html sitemap but is directed specifically to the search engines. The file is in the xml format and lists all the pages on your site along with other information relevant to the search engines such as the relative importance of various pages on your site and how often your pages are updated.
So how do you create one of these files? Well there are a number of different tools you can use and they are easily found online. Simply search for "sitemap generator" or "create sitemap". Some programs will run over the web and some are easily downloaded to your computer – this allows you to save and edit your sitemaps easily. In either case, the output of these programs should give you a file that has an .xml extension. You would typically name it sitemap.xml and then simply upload it to the root directory of your website.
After that, it is simply a matter of letting the search engines know that the file is there and they can start looking through it. Each of the search engines handles the sitemap submission a bit differently but they will all find the sitemap if you link to it in your robots.txt file.
In any case, be aware that you should have a sitemap.xml file on your website for the search engines. Now, this will not directly affect your rankings in the search engines but it will enable the search engines to index your entire site – without missing any pages. And, it will encourage them to do it sooner than later. That could affect your rankings.
Jonathan Hook helps people get their websites indexed faster and more completely with an easy to use, automated xml sitemap generator tool available at http://www.mapsbuilder.com