Site Maps

Sitemaps are typically lists of the pages that can be found in your site.  These are particularly useful if:

  • You use dynamic URLs.
  • Your site has content which aren’t easily crawled using by the Googlebot (A webcrawler) e.g. it has lots of AJAX or Flash in it.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it.  The Googlebot follows one link to another.  If your site has few links it will be difficult to find.
  • Your site has a large archive of pages which are not linked together or linked at all.

You can also use a site map to provide information on:

  • How often the pages change.
  • When a page was last updated.
  • The importance of pages on your site e.g. Homepage 1.0 Category 0.8 and individual blog entries 0.5.

Guidelines for Sitemap Design

Google adheres to Sitemap Protocol 0.9 as defined by http://www.sitemaps.org and produces the following set of guidelines to consider when producing a site map for submission via their web developer tools package:

  • A Sitemap can contain a list of URLs or a list of Sitemaps.
  • If your Sitemap contains a list of other Sitemaps, you should save it as a Sitemap index file and use the XML format provided for that file type. A Sitemap index file cannot list more than 50,000 Sitemaps.
  • A Sitemap file can contain no more than 50,000 URLs and be no larger than 10MB when uncompressed. If your Sitemap is larger than this, break it into several smaller Sitemaps. These limits help ensure that your web server is not overloaded by serving large files to Google.Specify all URLs using the same syntax. For instance, if you specify your site location as http://www.example.com/, your URL list should not contain URLs that begin with http://example.com/. And if you specify your site location as http://example.com/, your URL list should not contain URLs that begin with http://www.example.com/.
  • Do not include session IDs in URLs.
  • Do not include direct image URLs in Sitemaps. Google does not index the image directly; instead, we index the page on which the image appears. Direct image URLs included in Sitemaps won’t be indexed.
  • The Sitemap URL must be encoded for readability by the webserver on which it is located. In addition, it can contain only ASCII characters. It can’t contain upper ASCII characters or certain control codes or special characters such as * and {}. If your Sitemap URL contains these characters, you’ll receive an error when you try to add it.

How to produce a site map