Next best thing or next dumped project?
Yes another post about Google. Last one this week, I almost promise ;).
Lately Google seems to add a lot of Beta projects, don’t know if this is because they have valuable people that “cook ideas” very fast or because they’re getting more and more money involved in development (and they have where from, Google shares are over $300) but the truth is in this rhythm they’ll hit the jackpot…again.
So what’s Google Sitemap? According to Shiva Shivakumar, engineering director and the technical lead for Google Sitemaps (read full interview at SearchEngineWatch):
“We’re undertaking an experiment called Google Sitemaps that will either fail miserably, or succeed beyond our wildest dreams, in making the web better for webmasters and users alike. It’s a beta “ecosystem” that may help webmasters with two current challenges: keeping Google informed about all of your new web pages or updates, and increasing the coverage of your web pages in the Google index.”
So it is an XML based crawling system that enables you to communicate directly with Google to keep them informed of all your web pages, and the changes you make to those pages (and of course when you make them).
You have to generate an XML file containing all your links that you want indexed (you can choose which to exclude too), place that XML file in your root directory and after that send its location to Google.
I won’t start discussing the tags and other technical information related to the format of the XML file (because you can do that on the official Google Sitemap Help page) but I’ll give you an advice, use the GSiteCrawler application to generate your sitemap.
The best thing about this is that it is free and it takes less than 10 minutes to generate your sitemap. I can’t tell the same about the setup which has about 20MB (the full installation package – direct link) but at least you won’t have to spend time figuring out how to install and use the Google Sitemap Generator.
Once downloaded and installed you can either follow the 2 examples included in the application (first for a site without forum, second for a site with PHPbb) or read their full tutorial if you can’t make it on your own.
Tips on creating your sitemap:
- on the Ban URLs page make it read from your robots.txt file
- when you click Crawl all Links on the URL list tab be sure to click the Show Crawler button too, because this way you’ll see what errors occur (in case you have 404 links)
- after it displays the confirmation window just click on the Refresh Table button to display the links it crawled
- last step is to click on Generate Google Sitemap button, select a file for the sitemap to be saved and after that upload it on your root directory
After you created and validated Google Sitemap send it to Google by signing in to your Google account (if you have one) to upload it, or opening your web browser and entering http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/ping?sitemap=your_sitemap_url (instead of your_sitemap_url place the link of your xml file, like http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml).
Now everything should work. If you don’t want to use GSiteCrawler you can choose another resource from those Google mentioned 3rd party tools.
If you have problems or suggestions just place a comment and I’ll try to answer it.