Do It Yourself SiteMap
Yes, You Need a Sitemap. Here’s how to do it yourself.
There are many steps needed to create a dynamic website and turn those visits into conversions. A few factors to consider when developing your site:
- Site speed
- Site structure
- Social media strategy
- HTML and XML sitemaps
- Your use of structured data (f.i. schema.org)
Building and publishing your website is just the tip of the iceberg; getting exposure and traffic is the next phase.
Many of our clients prefer the ‘hands on’ technique, and opt for the ‘do-it-yourself’ approach when it comes to promoting their websites. We know this can be a daunting task, so here are some resources to help you out. Of course, you can always contact us if you need help.
BE SURE YOUR SITE HAS A SITEMAP
Many clients will see a spike in traffic and better SEO results shortly after submitting a sitemap to search engines, making it an important tactic for improving your clients’ website performance.
Sitemaps are xml or html files that list out every single URL on your website, along with important meta data for each URL that includes when it was last updated, how relatively important it is within your website structure and how often you make updates to it.
A FEW OPTIONS:
Slickplan $/Free Trial
Slickplan is a super-intuitive, visual tool that will help you easily create elegant and professional looking sitemaps. The interface allows for easy drag-and-drop creation plus customization with colors and images, and the final output options include a beautiful, scalable vector graphic for client presentations or a simple text or xml file.
In addition, Slickplan integrates with Basecamp and offers a WordPress plugin, and allows for easy sharing and collaboration between multiple users and editors.
Slickplan offers a free 30-day trial (with multiple pricing plans starting at $9.99/mo thereafter), and can be used for more than just generating sitemaps – it’s a handy tool for planning websites, creating a process flowchart, or developing information architecture for any type of project.
WriteMaps – Free
WriteMaps lets you build 3 sitemaps for free using their easy, intuitive visual sitemap planning tool. Similar to the other visual tools mentioned thus far, WriteMaps offers a simple interface and customization with colors, and allows you to map and collect page content. You can also archive old sitemaps as you update to stay organized, and share between both internal teams and clients. Export your final product as an eye-pleasing PDF or XML sitemap.
XML-sitemaps – FREE/$
XML-sitemaps.com offers a free online sitemap generator, as well as an unlimited and a pro version. The free generator is super simple and only requires 4 quick steps. XML-sitemaps.com offers some additional SEO tools including an XML sitemap validator, competitor analysis, keyword density calculator, and a SERP page checker.
WordPress / XML-sitemap-generator
Because WordPress is such a user-friendly option, many agencies and consultants highly recommend it to clients. So, if you’re building a WordPress site or your current site is on WordPress, XML-sitemap-generator.org’s plugin is a great tool for generating a sitemap within the CMS environment. It offers easy setup of your sitemap settings and an automatic ping option for when you have updated pages or posts, among other key features.
Now What? How to Submit a Sitemap
Once you’ve generated your sitemap, you’ll need to upload, check, and validate it. There’s some great information on how to do that here.
Then, I recommend you submit your xml sitemap directly to Google and Bing (which powers Yahoo) so that search engines know it’s available. It’s relatively simple to do through Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Here’s a quick overview of the steps to take:
In Google Webmaster Tools:
- On your Webmaster Tools home page, select your site.
- In the left sidebar, click Site configuration and then Sitemaps.
- Click the Add/Test Sitemap button in the top right.
- Enter /system/feeds/sitemap into the text box that appears.
- Click Submit Sitemap.
In Bing Webmaster Tools:
- Go to your website dashboard.
- Click “sitemaps” in the “configure my sitemap” dropdown on the left.
Finally, you should list your sitemap in your robots.txt file to ensure it’s found by all search engines other than Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Be sure to periodically check in on your sitemaps to address any indexation issues that may occur, or after any major site updates.
So all you Do It Yourselfers! Here’s how to build and submit this crucial element to your site structure. And as always, let us know if you need any help.