May 25th, 2009 by J.K.
Using a sitemap is one of the quickest and easiest ways to get your site indexed by the major search engines and it is also a great way to keep the search engines informed of when you update or change your site.
A sitemap is a very basic page that links to all of the pages on your site. It presents a clear path for the search engines to find and crawl every page of your site. You can hand build your sitemap or you can use any number of programs that are out there to create one. If your site is a blog that uses WordPress, there are a few different sitemap plugins that will automatically create a sitemap, then as your blog is updated they will also update the sitemap and ping different search engines to let them know your site has been updated.
As programming and site design becomes more and more complex, having a sitemap has become a vital part of making sure that your entire site can be seen in order to be indexed by search engines. One of the best ways to utilize your sitemaps is to take advantage of the free Google webmaster tools. The tools section has an area where you can list your site, verify that you are the owner/operator of the site, and then list the url of the sitemap (most sitemaps are located at www.domain.com/sitemap.xml, but you may choose to put it somewhere else) and Google can index it right from there. You can also use these tools to see when the site was last crawled and if Google is finding any dead or bad links in your sitemap.
Sitemap.org is a great site for reading more about how to manually create a sitemap. If you are using WordPress or you choose to use a program to create your sitemap, there are plenty of free plugins and programs out there to use.