Site Maps Help Search Engines Find Your Company¹
One of the best ways you can help search engines find and index your company’s website is by telling them where to look. Site maps provide search engines with a tool that lists the pages within your website so their automated indexing systems can find and organize your company’s pages correctly.
Because search engines depend in part on finding websites by using links from other sites, submitting a site map can be beneficial to owners of new or niche websites that don’t have a lot of links pointing to them yet.
Ranking well in search engine results pages is important for your site to be effective in attracting customers, generating leads, highlighting your expertise or making sales. Your site can provide a number of benefits, if customers and prospects can find it.
A site map doesn’t guarantee that a page will be crawled or indexed, but providing one increases your site’s odds of ranking higher in the major search engines’ results pages.
How Search Engines Search
While specific details and techniques vary among search engines (and are closely guarded secrets), search engines generally find and rank pages by using software tools known as bots to roam websites and index what they find. Along with recording the content on a specific page, the bots also follow any links they find, and index those pages as well.
The overall results are stored in sophisticated databases and organized to help users looking for information on specific topics find the most helpful pages.
Small business owners can help this process by compiling site maps to direct the search engines to their company’s site.
Creating a Site Map
An effective site map will consist of a list of the URLs (the Web addresses) of the pages within a website. This may be submitted as a text file or as an XML file containing the links within a site, and can be created manually or with software tools.
Sites with only few pages can create site maps manually, but owners of larger sites would find using an automated tool more efficient.
To create a site map manually, visit the pages in your site and copy the address of each site. Paste them into a plain-text file you can submit to the search engines.
Several websites and software companies offer ways to generate site maps automatically. In most instances, you submit the URL of your home page and answer some basic questions, such as how frequently pages are updated. The tool then provides a list of your site’s pages in a variety of formats that you can submit to search engines.
Once a site map file is created, you can upload it through submission forms offered by the major search engines.
After you have completed these steps, the time it will take for the search engine to index your site will vary. Like with most search engine strategies and tools, there are no guarantees, but submitting a site map is a simple process that does a lot to improve your chances of ranking highly within search engine results pages.