Thursday, April 17, 2008

How to add a sitemap to your website

Does your website get the traffic it deserves? Do you have an xml sitemap on your website? Can the Google and Yahoo bots crawl your website and add its pages to their index of webpages?

I was going to write about this on Saturday but after just completing the exercise to rewrite my page descriptions and keywords plus create a sitemap and deliver it to both Google and Yahoo (phew!!!) I thought I better do it now - while I can still remember what I did!

As sitemaps don't tend to generate nice images, all the images come from photos I took at the RHS Daffodil Festival which I visited yesterday!

Gold medal winning daffodils

I have a website powered by SiteKreator - and have had since June 2005. I'm one of the original artists who started using this webware and found it really suited people wanting to display a lot of images. I think there was one other artist before me!

Originally the webware didn't have the facility to create a sitemap and so I didn't have one. It's always been possible to rebadge the site with your own domain name and to create a site description and keywords for the website as a whole - so I did all that - but that really only works well for getting people to the 'front door' of your website. Plus I then found that Google Webmaster tools kept telling me that its bot keeps finding duplicate page descriptions - surprise, surprise!

So - what to do?

Well the SiteKreator webware has developed a lot since 2005 (and I must say they've been very responsive to customer suggestions), the site account options have been differentiated and it's now possible for:
  • all users to create page descriptions and keywords for individual web pages
  • business and power users to create and upload an xml sitemap
So I decided to go for it and created a plan to
  • write brand new page descriptions (page properties/special features) and a brand new set of keywords for every page - even though I've got about 60+ pages on a website which reflects my diverse interests. This has taken a little longer than expected - but it's my own fault including for individual pages for the sketchbooks and for expanding it include information about art materials and adviceon sketching and the publications etc.!
  • create and upload a sitemap to my site once that exercise was complete
  • tell Google and Yahoo and which ever other sites will allow me to tell them where to find my site map.
Rewriting key words and page descriptions for your website

I started in February working on the keywords and page descriptions and wrote the two posts below as a result.
The exercise has started to have a real impact on my website statistics. Here are some tips if you want to do the same sort of thing

Tip: I've used three different sites to check keywords. These are Wordtracker, Seodigger and Google Adwords - all of these have free tools which can be accessed by anybody. To be honest I ran out of steam on some parts of my website and therefore need to go back and tweak my keywords at some point - but probably not right now!


RHS Daffodils - these came home with me

copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Tip: Once I was clear about keywords that were relevant to the topic of each page then it became much easier to write the page descriptions.

Tip: I used Notepad to save 'template' keywords and site descriptions for similar pages - which made it a lot easier to tweak for an individual page without starting from scratch each time.

Tip: Always go back and review your previous efforts and edit down to get back to a focus on keywords while making the page description nice and easy to understand.

Creating a site map

Once I got to the end of the page description/keywords slog I was then able to review a very useful part of the tips and tricks section of the SiteKreator website which was about creating a site map and uploading it to Google and Yahoo.

This advocates using the service available at XML-sitemaps.com which I did and found it extremely easy to use - enter your domain name, press button and sit back and it returns the files it produces very quickly indeed. If you have less than 500 pages on your website then it delivers the files for free and also offers to identify any broken links you might have.

For anybody who has ever looked at the page on Google which describes how to create a sitemap this will seem like a complete godsend. It took me hours and hours prior to this to even get my head round it and even then I couldn't create a proper xml sitemap and gave up!

The description about what to do in relation to uploading to Google and Yahoo applies irrespective of who you have your website with and what software you used to generate your sitemap - so long as you've created one that is valid. Don't forget to do the all important site verification bit!

The Wikipedia page on sitemaps also suggests other sites that you can upload your site map to.


Swag! These came home with me
copyright Katherine Tyrrell

Finally, I've finally made the decision to become an official Affiliate of SiteKreator.

I've sung their praises for nearly three years without any sort of affiliate status at all. As a result, I believe I've influenced a lot of people to try their webware as an option for their website. I know I still see lots and lots of them on my travels and it always makes me smile! However, in order to subsidise my flower habit (see above right), I decided it might be a good idea to see some results for all my plaudits and I wanted to make that very clear in relation to the hyperlinks you will see on very occasional blogs posts about websites on this blog or the links that will appear on my website at www.pastelsandpencils.com

...and I'd still have been telling you all about what I've been up to anyway, so it won't make any difference to how I write!

3 comments:

Anima said...

Thanks, Katherine - I've been meaning to get this done for a few months! Now it's something else off my list.

Katherine Tyrrell said...

Thanks Anima - and I see from your blog that you've done it!

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Thanks Katherine, again another great post. i took looked up the information on google about how to create an xml sitemap and gave up .. and i am a webdesigner thats what i am supposed to do !! (it was all a bit confusing) again you have done a fabulous job at clearing it all up :)

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