The Google Sitemap For Idiots
I don't mind admitting that every time some new fangled idea or piece of technology arrives online, I have a small fit and wonder how long it's going to take me to understand what it is, what it's for and whether I need to use it to stay 'up there'. It's even more frightening when the experts start explaining it and really only serve to confuse the matter when they use their 'techno-speak'.
Here I am still wrestling with RSS and along comes Google with their Sitemap program. I must admit, it sounds simple enough until you read a couple of articles about how to generate your sitemap or go to Google's instructions and manage to get completely confused. I don't know what it is, although I know it's not just me. I know too many people who work online and have the same problem. Maybe we just went to school in the wrong decade (seventies or maybe earlier). But then, we can spell and write, can't we?
For those who need to know what the Google Sitemap program is about, here it is in the nutshell and in MY language - English. At least, what I think it is, anyway:
Google, I imagine have become tired of crawling billions of websites, most of which are largely inactive or abandoned or both. So they are giving webmasters (website owners) the opportunity to play a part in the frequency and importance placed on the crawling of our websites. Even to the point of giving us the ability to prioritize these aspects of the individual pages. In doing so, they are also having us do some of their work for them, which is OK, seeing as they are our websites. I think it's grand.
In their instructions, Google give a few different methods by which you can generate a suitable Sitemap and how to get it onto your server etc. To be honest, I found it totally confusing. They do suggest that we use their Sitemap generator, but it is only compatible if your server uses a thing called 'Python 2.2' and you need to know the command that launches it? WHAT??? There's that 'nerd stuff' again. Every time I send a simple question to my webhost, like, "what's your name", I get three paragraphs of unintelligible 'techno-speak', so how do I find out if I have some 'Snake-thingy' on my server? So, Google's instructions are no good to me, or anyone like me. Even their alternatives, although slightly simpler, don't answer ALL the questions I need answered in order to get through it in one piece.
Fortunately, through trial and error (or maybe because I may actually be turning into a 'nerd'), I can tell you how to generate a Sitemap, upload it to you server (and more importantly, WHERE to put it) and how to submit it to Google.
First, you go to this website - http://www.blocklayer.com/googlesitemap/ and you will find that all you need to do is put the URL of you website (the main domain name) into the appropriate field and click "Create map". It will create a list of the pages in your website and will, helpfully, also list any broken or inactive links (which you can go about fixing). You can change the frequency with which each page is crawled and rate it's importance. Obviously, pages which change often, need to be crawled more often etc. When you're happy with your list of pages, you click on "XML Sitemap" and it creates a coded XML Sitemap. XML is the code that's used in RSS, which looks much like HTML.
Now, and this is the magic bit, you need to do one more thing before you can upload to your server. You need to copy and paste the XML code to a 'Notepad' document. You call the file 'sitemap.xml'. Now the WHOLE of that file name goes in the 'Filename' box,. The '.xml' doesn't go into the 'file type' box, like it would in a Word, Excel or any other program. Low and behold, the little 'Notepad' program magically recognizes the fact that it is XML format (I don't know how, probably mirrors?) and the file you end up with has the '.xml' file extension. That is what you upload to your server.
It's very easy. You just place it under what they call the 'Root Directory'. I've learned that this is the 'Main Folder' (I don't know why they just don't say 'Main Folder', but?). So, it goes into the very first folder of your website. If using cPanelXŽ it's called 'html public'. If using FrontpageŽ, it's simply the folder with the main URL as it's name.
My first question was, "What about Sub-Domains?" Do I have to submit separate Sitemaps or will they be included in the one I generate for the Main Domain? The answer is that Sub Domains won't be included in the Main Sitemap, you need to generate a separate one by simply using the Sub-Domain URL in the generator. This is handy because each Sub-Domain will usually have unique needs and it would be more than awkward if they were all included in the main Sitemap.
Obviously, in the case of a Sub Domain, the 'Root Directory' or 'Main Folder' you put this Sitemap into is the Main Sub-Domain folder, that is, the first one under the Main Domain folder.
Submitting to Google is a really easy process. You just log into your Google account (you have to have one) and go to the 'Add a Sitemap' section and enter the COMPLETE filename of the sitemap, which will be: http://www.mydomain.com/sitemap.xml and click on 'Submit URL'.
Although I have had a little fun with the fact that I still, after several years earning a living online, don't understand a lot of the 'lingo'. To those of you who are in the same position or those who are new to this Internet business thing, I can honestly say, you will get a handle on it and find that all these things, which may seem completely overwhelming at first, will make sense and come more easily if you take the time to read a little and find out. I've obviously surrendered to this concept and it has made things much easier.
Oh God! I think I'm a Nerd!
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