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An XML (Extensible Mark-up Language) sitemap is a form of markup language and is consisted of tags that define pages that should be indexed by search engines.
XML Sitemaps are designed for search engines and not for users. If you're new to the idea, and want to know how a sitemap looks like, they're typically available to see as a file sitemap.xml on the site, for example http://www.dell.com/sitemap.xml and these may link to other sitemaps for different countries and content categories, for example, http://www.dell.com/content-uk-sitemap.xml.
In this simple way we can easily identify if companies have a sitemap.xml and if the values in the tags, for each page, are properly implemented. These are some important tips that you need to consider when deciding whether to use XML Sitemaps.
Without any further ado, we can now review the step-by-step process in order to generate a sitemap.
There are many online tools that can help you with the creation/generation of sitemap.xml. For this purpose, we are going to use this service : http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. If you're running a WordPress blog or site, the Yoast SEO plugin includes a function for this.
In order to start modifying the current Frequency and Priority, all we need to is to start using the NotePad ++. It’s a user-friendly software that can be installed on the desktop of our computers and facilitate our life regarding the editing of the sitemap.xml.
All we have to do now is to save the current form of the sitemap.xml on our desktop on a folder and start working on the Notepad ++ in order to edit the Frequency and Priority of each page.
We need to be really meticulous and thorough. We need to make sure that we haven’t deleted by mistake any of the tags that we are processing (e.g. <url>, </url> etc.).
For our case study, we have deliberately deleted a tag. In this case the final sitemap.xml will appear like this (please review the screenshot below) and we will probably need to review again the sitemap.xml until we spot the problem.
If we have more than one language versions of a website, it is important to create sitemap.xml for each language respectively. There are cases where you handle large sites. The case in point we can automate the process by using Notepad++, simply by going to: Search > Replace and then just fill in the respective fields and include the language version for your sitemap.xml.
After the editing of the sitemap.xml (you can see the final version of the sitemap.xml below), the next step is the implementation of the sitemap.xml in the source code. Depending on our coding skills we can either implement it ourselves or a developer can implement it instead.
Implementation of Sitemap.xml on Google Webmaster Tools
Once the sitemap.xml is implemented by the development team, we will have to submit each language version of the website on Google Webmaster Tools (and on Bing Webmaster Tools).
Where are we going to find the respective Sitemap section?
Under the Crawl section, just click on Sitemap.
Afterwards, just fill out the respective field and you are ready to submit the website to Google Webmaster Tools.
Important Tip - Implementation of Sitemap.xml on Google Webmaster Tools for multilingual websites
In the event that our TLD (Top Level Domain) is a generic one (e.g. .com), in this case we will need to add/create our website in each language respectively. So if our website was www.nudgedigital.com (and if we had four language versions: Russian, French, German, Italian), then we would have to:
I hope these steps give you an idea of how sitemaps can be setup if you have heard about them, but wondered how to set them up.
By Vagelis Varfis
Vagelis is the Head of Search for Nudge Digital a creative, digital agency in Bristol offering web design, web development and full SEO marketing services. Vagelis is a Google Analytics Qualified Individual and an Adwords Certified Professional. His experience is mainly focused on the hotel industry throughout Greece, Cyprus and China. Also, he is focussed on e-commerce websites and the healthcare industry. Some of his publications are associated with academic community, from peer reviewed journals, like Aslib Proceedings (from Emerald Publishing Group) or from academic conferences . Search now is no longer just a job but an indispensable part of his life. You can follow him on Twitter or connect on LinkedIn and G+.
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