If you have a website or a blog and you have not added your site map to Google Webmaster tools, you should take the time to do so.
Back in the Stone Age when I first got online I barely knew what a sitemap was. I spent some time reading in various forums trying to find out what it was and if it was something important. What I read back then was that it didn’t really make a difference if you told Google about your sitemap because Google would find your content sooner or later. With info like that, I didn’t bother creating or uploading a sitemap.
Change of Heart
More recently I became a little frustrated because I added a Google Search function to one of my sites, but it proved to be useless because most of the pages of my site weren’t indexed. Without having the pages indexed, the search results were rather pitiful.
In an attempt to change that I decided to submit my sitemap to Google to help them index my entire site. While I don’t know if adding a sitemap does anything for your website’s rankings or whether or not it gets your new pages indexed faster, what I do know is that not having pages indexed in Google means that visitors can’t find them.
Results of Adding a Sitemap
On April 24th I submitted my sitemap to Google (I know the date because I checked my ‘To Done’ list). When I first added it I only had 128 pages out of over 400 pages indexed. Three days later on April 27 the number of pages indexed pages jumped from 128 to 235 pages. On April 28th the number of pages increased from 235 to 264. Yesterday (5/4/2010) I checked and I found that 436 pages of my site were indexed by Google. Wow, the power of a sitemap.
Fluke or a Process
I was so impressed with the indexing thoroughness that I decided to submit my NJFM sitemap to Google. When I first submitted it on April 28th only 190 pages were indexed. Yesterday, the number jumped to 233 pages and as of today, 336 NJFM pages are now indexed by Google.
As I said earlier, it may not improve page ranking or site popularity, but it does make it easier for readers to find my sites.
For my WordPress blogs, I used a plug-in called XML Sitemap Generator to generate the sitemap.
For my Joomla website I downloaded a plug-in called XMap . It creates both an XML and an HTML site map. For those of you not familiar with the XML and HTML, XML is what Google uses to index your site and HTML creates a web page that’s readable by humans.
There are also free site map generators that work just as well. Some of the free sitemap services limit the number of pages of the sitemap. Here are a couple that I found:
Once you have your site map generated, log into your Google Webmaster Account and click on the “Configuration” link to access the “Sitemap” page. All you have to do is tell Google where your site map is located and click “Submit.”
One thing I have noticed, however, is the disparity between the number of pages indexed shown in the Google Webmaster account and the actual Google search engine. The Webmaster tool shows a lower index count. I use the Google search engine to determine the total number of pages indexed because that’s how folks find my sites.
To find out the number of pages indexed using the Google search engine type “site:domainname.com” into the Google search engine (remove the quotes). Google will display the number of pages indexed.