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Search engines crawl—or index—websites in order to determine what information its webpages and other online resources contain. Websites can inform these crawl mechanisms—often termed spiders, crawlers and bots—on how to approach that process. An XML sitemap, which the tool provided here can generate quickly and with great accuracy, is among the most effective means to give Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines those instructions. Without those guidelines, a search engine spider must discover everything on its own, which increases the potential for:
• Outdated or obsolete information
• Missed pages and other resources
• Crawling of dead or irrelevant links
• An inaccurate measure of keywords
• The undervaluing of non-text-based assets
What is an XML sitemap?
A sitemap is a document that assists Google, Bing and other major search engines in crawling a website in a fast, purposeful and accurate manner. You can create sitemaps in text as well as in a wide range of other formats. XML—which stands for Extensible Markup Language—is among the most prevalent formats used and has arguably become the de facto standard for sitemaps. XML not only provides structure but allows for advanced sitemap options.
Think of an XML sitemap is a tool through which you can establish rules for how a spider crawls your website. It gives you the power to emphasize your most valuable landing pages and deemphasize or exclude utility resources that are useful to your users but not necessarily valuable as a high-quality search landing. An XML sitemap also allows you to provide additional information about a resource. Although largely unnecessary for text-based resources, these additional details are very useful when it comes to indexing:
• Flash games
Why are XML sitemaps important?
XML sitemaps give you control. Search engines use that guidance to index your site in a purposeful way guided by you. Indexing via sitemap is also as fast as possible. The robot doesn’t need to enumerate the many links throughout your website, and it can skip pages and other resources that are immaterial for this purpose. This speed makes it so that the most current and accurate information about your site is available via the major search engines as soon as possible, and sitemaps help crawlers detect changes sooner as well.
An XML sitemap also lets you assign additional information to each page. These details can include:
• How often the page changes
• A timestamp for the last update
• Keywords and other meta data
• Relevance of the page within context
Does every website need an XML sitemap?
An XML sitemap is never required, but any website can benefit from its presence. The larger and more robust a site becomes, the more value a sitemap has, but even small sites can benefit greatly from sitemaps that are concise and optimized. XML sitemaps are relatively easy to create and update, and as long as the file is easily accessed by the crawlers, there’s little else you have to do. In other words, there’s very little reason not to have an XML sitemap even if you can’t quite yet quantify why you should beyond that it can just improve crawling.
If you prefer more explicit reasoning, then you can adhere to the guidelines published by Google. Google is among the most widely used search engines in the world, and its search experts recommend XML sitemaps for:
• Large websites since crawlers can easily miss new and recently updated pages and can overlook all types of pages outright if the navigational structure is unoptimized or unorthodox
• Sites with extensive archives since items in an archive tend to contain dense information that often doesn’t reference the other items within the collection
• New websites with few external links because it can otherwise take a while for crawlers to discover these links in a natural manner
• Sites heavy with multimedia since this type of content isn’t as self-describing as text and crawlers can use the meta information to determine relevance and other characteristics
How are XML sitemaps generated?
XML documents are text documents that use the XML structure and extension. That means that you can create an XML sitemap by hand. Creating an XML sitemap by hand, however, often isn’t practical. Consider that XML sitemaps can contain as many as 50,000 links plus meta information for each. Therefore, an XML sitemap generator, such as the one found on this site, is used instead. Generating a sitemap with a tool is a relatively simple and fast process. The tool provided will navigate your site and build an XML sitemap that reflects it. You can then download that file to your computer for customization and eventually for upload to your server for live usage by search crawlers.
Using the Free Online XML Sitemap Generator at SEO Services
Making use of the free XML sitemap generator available online here at SEO Services is as simple as entering a valid domain name and clicking the Generate Sitemap button. You can run this generator on your own domain or even on a domain that you don’t own. That may be useful if you want to see what an XML sitemap looks like for a website that scores well within the markets that concern you, such as an automotive site that regularly scores better.
This free online XML sitemap generator also supports a series of parameters, such as:
• Modified date
• Day, month and year
• Change frequency
• Default priority
• Number of pages to crawl
Customizing the Generated XML Sitemap to Your Needs
Change these parameters as needed before you generate your XML sitemap. If you’re unsure of why you may want to change these parameters before generating a sitemap, then you should leave them as is and create an XML sitemap with the default settings. The advanced configuration options are very useful when creating an XML sitemap that emphasizes specific aspects of your website, such as your newest content, content from a specific period or category, or the content that ranks highest with Google, Bing, Yahoo and the other major search engines.
Each of the parameters provided gives you the option to dictate the contents of your sitemap in an automated fashion. Modified date, for instance, lets you exclude all content up to a specific date or rather only include content from today or a particular date that you specify via the textbox labeled dd/mm/yyyy. The change frequency parameter lets you inform crawlers how often these URLs are updated, and your options include hourly, daily, monthly, and yearly. You can set a default priority for links that ranges from 0.0 to 1.0, and you can instruct the XML sitemap generator to crawl 100, 500, 1K or even 5K links. Note that the link count will begin from the first page indexed. If you indicate the domain as somedomain.com, then the count will start at the homepage, but you could of course further refine the links indexed by setting the domain as somedomain.com/somepage.html, for instance.
Note that you may have to perform image verification prior to clicking the Generate Sitemap button or the request will be ignored. This is necessary to ensure that this free process isn’t exploited by automated systems.
Understanding Search Engines and Sitemaps
When this free online XML sitemap generator is finished, it will provide the completed XML in a text area above. You can copy that XML and paste it where you like. You also have the option to save it as an XML file. Simply click the Save As XML File button. The tool will launch the file explorer native to your OS and let you choose a file name and save path. You now have an XML document that you can edit locally and upload to your web server as needed.
Note that you never upload the sitemap to a search engine like Google. For most search engines, however, you do have to provide them the URL to the sitemap so that they know where to look for it. Be consistent about the file name and file path so that any informed crawler can access the file as needed. Some search engines do discover sitemaps automatically if they’re present in the root structure of the website, but you shouldn’t rely on this and should instead be proactive about submitting the sitemap URL to at least the major search engines.
Each search provider has its own protocol for being informed about a new XML sitemap for your domain. You must make certain to adhere to the protocol for each search engine you care about. The process is generally rather simple and straightforward, and when it comes to the three major search engines:
• Google requires you to inform it of your XML sitemap via your Webmaster Tools account.
• Bing has you specify XML sitemaps via its Webmaster Center using your Windows Live account.
• Yahoo necessitates logging in to the Yahoo service and submitting the URL via the Submit Site field.
Advanced Uses and Features Provided by the XML Sitemap Generator
It’s important to note that an XML sitemap isn’t necessarily or even usually a replacement for a base sitemap for a website domain. If you create a sitemap that includes every page that comprises your website, then it effectively is, but in that case, you’re not using XML sitemaps to their full potential. Be mindful that your website isn’t limited to just one XML sitemap. It can have many. Some websites will have new XML sitemap everyday pointing crawlers to new content. Many websites use XML sitemaps specifically for videos and other multimedia so that they can provide the additional meta data that helps those items score well in search engine rankings.
The free XML sitemap generator available to you here helps you complete any of those tasks. You can include or exclude content based on a particular date, which is perfect, for instance, if you want to create a sitemap for new content published today or published this week or month. If you want to explicitly emphasize or deemphasize content, you can set a default priority. If you’d like to create an XML sitemap for a particular kind of content, then it helps to have that content organized by subdomains. Maintaining your videos at somedomain.com/videos, for instance, makes it very simple to create a sitemap of all videos on your site. You could also make subdomains such as somedomain.com/videos/dd-mm-yyyy or somedomain.com/videos/category and so forth.
Using the Free Online XML Site Generator to Optimize SEO
This website is dedicated to search engine optimization, and the XML site generator provided here for you to use at no cost and without obligation is a highly effective SEO tool. Websites structures tend to take on a life of their own. They’re hard to control, but an XML sitemap gives you control despite that flux. While not having an XML sitemap certainly isn’t penalized, having one provides many considerable benefits, such as:
• Discovery of high-value URLs
• Deemphasis of low-value links
• Page priority
• Meta data on a per-resource basis
• Temporal information
Automation ensures that most of the work is done for you. If customization is required, such as adding meta data for multimedia, you can add that on a per-item basis as needed. Any time you need to update a particular XML sitemap or require a new one, you can simply return here and run the generator again. It’s a simple process and a technique that’s helped many successful websites rank appropriately on search engines and have their most important content fed as landing pages. We hope that you get great value from this and our other tools and return time and again.