Introduction to sitemap and how to generate sitemap for Google, Yahoo, MSN
What is a sitemap ?
sitemap is basically an ASCII text file in XML format containing a full list of your website URLs, there is a specific format that a sitemap must adhere to in order for all search engines that obey the standard to read the content in the sitemap. The fomart a sitemap looks like this :-
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
Why and who should use sitemap ?
Submitting a sitemap to the search engines can help search engine crawlers to find and index your web pages faster, the search engine crawlers do not need to scan through web page by web page to discover links to your other web pages. Every website should have a sitemap, especially if you are frequently adding new web pages or your web pages are wth Dynamic URLs.
How can I generate a sitemap ?
There are sevaral ways you can generate a sitemap for your website, you can either code your self (i.e. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/docs/en/sitemap-generator.html), use a free web based sitemap generation service of your choice (i.e. www.sitemapspal.com) or use a PC based window program (http://gsitecrawler.com/), all these will generate standard sitemaps that can be used acrose major search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN. Once you have generate a sitemap, place it in the web root folder of your hosting account same place where the robots.txt resides.
How to I submit sitemap ?
There are two ways for you to submit a sitemap, you can manually submit through each of the search engines, or place a code in the robots.txt of your website indicating you have a sitemap ready, search engines will read the sitemap as and when the visit your website for indexing, the code to enter in robots.txt :-
The <sitemap_location> should be a complete URL to the sitemap, i.e. http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
If you have a google webmaster tools account, you can also manually submit the sitemap through the interface, that will allow you to track the status in google webmaster tools account.
For Yahoo, you can manually submit sitemap to the Yahoo Site Explorer (siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com)