Google Sitemaps Explained

Google Sitemaps

If you’re yet to hear about Google Sitemaps, here’s a quick overview of what it is and how it works. Keep in mind this is quite new, therefore subject to change. After all it’s Google Sitemaps Beta!

Google Sitemaps offers a new way for webmasters to have more control over the spidering (is that a word?) process. Not only can you now tell Google what you want to be indexed, but you can also tell Google the priority and update frequency of your content.

So how do you get started?

  • First, you must have an account with Google, you will already have an existing account if you use Google free services, such as Gmail, Groups or Alerts. You must activate your Sitemap account by uploading a blank file with a unique ID in the file name. Once it’s uploaded, you’re ready to submit your URL.
  • Next thing you have to do is choose how you’re going to generate your Sitemap file. There are many ways you can do this, and lots of tools to do this. Try Googling to find an application for your platform or script in your preferred language. Google offers a Python script with good documentation.
  • Once you’ve generated your Sitemap file (sitemap.xml), Google then needs to know about it. You do this by a common HTTP request, it looks like this:www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/ping?sitemap=sitemap_urlDepending on what tool you’re using, you may have to set up a scheduled job for this ( i.e. cron for UNIX folk).
  • Next thing you should do is check your My Sitemaps area at Google. Your URL should now be listed. If not, it’s time to go over the steps listed in Google’s documentation. There’s stacks of information that explains the major aspects of Sitemaps and the Sitemap protocol. The FAQ is very informative.
  • Here’s what your My Sitemaps page should now look like:

    Google Sitemaps

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