Google Sitemaps – What, Why and How

A Google Sitemap (“GS” for short) enable Google’s GoogleBot spider to easily know what to index on your website. It is basically a text file that lists the web addresses of all the pages on your website. When Google’s GoogleBot spider reads this list, it then knows about all those webpages that are specified in the GS. Two different formats are supported: text sitemaps and XML sitemaps. Both formats contain the addresses of all the webpages on your website. The XML version contains additional information about each webpage such as its last modification date and approximately how often it is updated.

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How Does a Google Sitemap Help Me?

In the absence of a GS file, the GoogleBot spider downloads a webpage from your website and scans through the GS looking for any links that it contains to other webpages in your website. Google’s GoogleBot spider then downloads all those newly found pages and repeats the process of scanning for links. It takes a lot of time to download and scan through pages. If you have a GS, the GoogleBot spider immediately knows about all the webpages on your website. Reading it is considerably faster than having to download and scan each page. A GS also helps if your webpages are not well linked together or not at all. In that case, without a GS, it may take a while for some webpages to be discovered or discovered at all. When you have a GS, that problem is eliminated google index download.

Does Index Everything?

No, Google may not index everything that you specify. states, “we can’t guarantee that URLs from your Sitemap will be added to the Google index.” Even though does not guarantee that it will index everything that you specify in your GS, a GS should increase the opportunity that your webpages will be indexed sooner since Google will know about them sooner. If Google does not know about your webpages, they may not get indexed.

If I Create a Google Sitemap, Will It Hurt Me?

No, a GS will not hurt you. states, “In most cases, webmasters will benefit from Sitemap submission, and in no case will you be penalized for it.” uses the information contained in your GS to learn about the structure of your website and to better schedule its search engine spider in the scanning (a.k.a. crawling or spidering) of your website.

How Do I Generate a Google Sitemap?

There are several tools available that you can use to create a GS. itself even provides a sitemap generator written in the Python programming language. There are also websites where you type in your website address and its spider goes and scans your website to determine all your webpages; however, such scanning is time consuming since every page on your website must be scanned, and the process must be initiated by you. If you want to make the process run faster or automate it, then use generator software locally on your website.

How Can I Automate Google Sitemap Generation?

Creating a GS can be an automated process. The simplest way is to install and use the generator software. Once you install this software in your cgi-bin directory, the software will automatically generate the GS file each time the GS file is accessed. This software is of the type whereby you can “set it and forget it”. You can go about adding to your website and you do not have to worry about updating your GS. The software works by scanning your website’s hard drive looking for files to include in your GS. Because the hard drive is accessed directly, this software very quickly generates the GS. The software runs very fast — it has been clocked at finding over 500 webpages per second — that’s fast for any generator software.

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