How to Create Your XML Site Map

You can create a sitemaps file in various ways. Google provides the Sitemap Generator program, which you can install on your web server; it’s a Python script, so if you don’t know what that means and don’t have a geek who does, consider creating the file another way.

If you’re the proud owner of a large, sophisticated, database-driven site, it’s probably a job for your programmers; they should create a script that automatically builds the XML sitemap.

What if you own a small site, though, and have limited technical skills? No problem: Plenty of free and low-cost sitemap-creation tools are available.

Note that many of the tools call themselves Google sitemap creators, because Google was the first search engine to use sitemaps. All you need, however, is the basic Google XML sitemap format for all the other search engines, so if it creates a “Google” sitemap, it will work fine.

Some of these programs run on your computer, some require installing on your web server, and some are services run from another website. You can find a large list of these sitemap generators here:

code.google.com/p/sitemap-generators/wiki/SitemapGenerators

A favorite sitemap generator for small sites is XML-Sitemaps.com. You simply enter your domain name into a web page, and it spiders your site, creating the sitemap as it goes, up to 500 pages. If your site is bigger, you can get the service to install a script on your web server for $20 (assuming that your server can run PHP scripts).

Sitemap files can be as large as 10MB and contain as many as 50,000 URLs. If you need to exceed either limit, you must create multiple sitemap files and a sitemap index file that refers to the individual sitemap files. Your XML Sitemaps can also be compressed in the .gz file format so that they transfer more quickly to the search engine.

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