If you have a web site but it’s nowhere to be found on Google, you can easily improve your rankings by submitting a site map. A site map is a listing of the pages within your site. In addition to telling the search engine what pages are within your site, you can also send instructions to the search engine – such as hide pages or prioritize pages.
There are software applications to automate the creation of site maps but the purpose of this article is to show you how to create a site map for your HTML site for free.
1. Create a list of all of the pages in your site.
A site map is an XML file or plain text file that lists of all of the pages within your site. To generate a list you will need access to a local copy or the hosted copy of your site.
Depending upon the size of your site, generating a list could be a very big project or an easy task. Assuming that you have a few dozen or less pages, and that you have access to your file list, you can make your own list of articles and pages quite easily. If your HTML site has more than 50 or so pages, I recommend the Google Sitemap Automator from RAGE Software – while not free, it is inexpensive and will save you hours of time.
If you are not the creator of your site and therefore do not have the files on your computer, you will need to access the files where they are hosted. To do this, log in as the administrator of your site using an FTP software or using the file-manager software that your hosting company provides. This makes it easy to create a list to be used as a site map. Don’t forget to look inside folders for other nested folders or files. If you don’t want a page to be returned in search results, don’t include it in the list.
Looking at the list of files, type up or copy and paste the text to create the path names. A properly structured path name should look like this (without the spaces):
http:// www. winningatwebmarketing. com / reviews / smith. html
Here are guidelines for an effective site-map list:
- Do not format your list. All formatting will be lost when you save the file as a plain text file.
- Separate the folder and file names with slashes.
- Do not put more than one URL on a line.
- When you save the file, save it as a plain- or simple-text file in UTF-8 encoding. Generally this is an option during the save process. Alternatively, save it as an XML file.
- Do not include any information other than a list of URLs.
- Save the file with a.txt file extension.
- Name the file something descriptive, such as c-shaffstall-sitemap.txt.
- Use the file-manager software provided by your site-hosting vendor and upload the file to the root directory of your site (generally this is wwwroot, public_html, or something similar).
2. Create a Google Webmaster account.
Now that you have a site map, you need to tell Google about it. Google has a bevy of tools for the webmaster and most of them are free. Start by creating a Google Webmaster account. When you have received the email notifying you that the process is complete, add your site to your management dashboard.
- Click the add a site button and type your URL into the modal dialogue box that appears.
- Click continue.
You may add as many sites as you choose to your Google Webmaster account, but each site must be verified. This step is to ensure that you are not monitoring or changing the settings of a site that does not belong to you.
Note: The verification process requires that you have administrative access to the site, either personally or through a webmaster. There are three methods of verification available to you. I generally choose the either the first or the second method, because they’re both very easy to do. In both cases, however, you will need to upload or modify pages within your site. If this worries you, phone your webmaster and ask for help. It is possible to damage your site and without a recent backup, you risk creating a lot of unnecessary work for lots of colleagues.
To verify your site, perform follow either step one or step two. It’s not necessary to do both.
- Once the site has been added, you or your webmaster must copy and paste the text provided into the head section of the source code of your home page. -or-
- Click the link provided to download the HTML verification file and upload it to your site. If you do not personally have access, email this file to your webmaster and ask that [s]he post it to the root directory of your site.
- Click the verify button to have Google check for the file and verify that you have administrative access that enabled you to either modify the source code or upload a file. If you were successful, Google will display the dashboard with your site listed.
3. Benchmark your current positioning.
In order to appreciate the improvements, you have to know where you are now. The best way I’ve found to monitor traffic is to use the Google Analytics tool. You created a Google Webmaster account in step two, so you can just add this new option to that account. Log in to Google Analytics using the account settings that you created for your webmaster account and then click the button to sign up for Google Analytics.
A Google Analytics account will provide you a graphical representation of your visitors’ behavior. After you have completed the forms and accepted the terms, you will receive your unique Google Analytics code. Copy and paste this code into the source before the closing body tag of every page that you wish to track. If you are not familiar with HTML code, I strongly recommend that you send this code to your webmaster and instruct that person to place the code on each page you wish to track or, better yet, on the template for your site.
Note: The code that Google provides you is unique to just one site. Do not put the code in more than one site or it will skew your data.
If you’re not ready to start tracking analytics at this point, don’t worry. You can get the code whenever you need it.
With the site added you will need to wait until Google has verified and added your site. When it’s ready, the status warning symbol next to your site’s name will be removed. When your site is finally recognized by Google, analytics will tell you a lot about who is visiting, from where they are coming, where they are going within your site, how long they spend on each page, and much, much more. The help files here are a really great resource. I use them often to stay on top of changes and learn how to get even more benefit from this information.
In most cases, I do not to actually submit my site map until I have one week’s worth of data showing in my analytics account. That way I can see whether or not the site map has an impact on my site. I have never seen a case where a site map was not helpful in promoting a site, so you should expect to see some positive growth soon after you have completed the submission process.
4. Submit your site map.
Return to your webmaster account and click submit a site map in the lower-right corner of the dialogue box, click the button submit a site, and type in the URL of your site map. When you have successfully uploaded and navigated to your site map, the dashboard will list the site map.
5. Monitor your growth.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your site’s growth and to work to improve its performance. There are a number of ways to do this, but one very important effort is the continual and consistent posting of content that links to current content. I recommend blogs to all of my clients because the very nature of a blog is to enable easy access and control of your site – without trying to connect with your webmaster each time you need a change.
Whether you have a blog or an HTML site, monitor your Google Analytics account very regularly. Once a day is not too often, however, if I have sent a direct-mail campaign with links to targeted landing pages, I might check my progress many times throughout the day. Doing so will alert me early if a problem exists, such as a broken link.
6. Create a user-friendly site-map page.
Site maps are great behind the scenes but they’re just an effective when they take center stage and provide the function of a table of contents for your site. Be creative, use graphics. The Enterprise 검증사이트 Angels’ site map really makes you want to explore the site.
Cyndie Shaffstall, serial entrepreneur
Cyndie Shaffstall has been a member of the publishing and print industries for more than three decades. Her career spans many interests, specialties, and job verticals, but first and foremost, she is an entrepreneur. At the onset of the 90s, Shaffstall provided corporate training services for companies looking to upgrade to a Mac-based workflow from traditional typesetting and pre-press workflows. Her clients at that time included reputable in-house and commercial publishers such as United Airlines and the Clarinda Company. In 1992, she self-published her first book, QuarkXPress: Making the Most of Your Negative Experiences.
Shaffstall founded The World-Wide Power Company, LLC in 1995 and in 1998, acquired the assets of XChange US and their publication, X-Ray Magazine. The companies were merged to form ThePowerXChange, LLC. Shaffstall sold ThePowerXChange in 2009 and X-Ray Magazine in 2010, but is still a contributing author.