Part IV – XML Sitemaps – Advanced SEO Tips for Your Exponent CMS Website
As a follow up to Part III of my advanced SEO tips for Exponent CMS webmasters that discussed installing webmaster tools, I'll now discuss the importance of XML Sitemaps and how to create and configure one for your Exponent site.
What are XML Sitemaps?
XML Sitemaps for your website that notifies the search engines about each web pages on your site, how important each page is, as well as how often the site is updated.
Creating a XML Sitemap also provides a way for the search engines to discover pages on your website that they might not have found through the normal site crawling process.
A complement to the Robots.txt file, after they are generated, XML Sitemaps are uploaded to Google and Bing Webmaster tools to help you manage the indexation of your web pages.
Creating & Uploading a XML Sitemap
Generating an XML sitemap is very easy by going to www.xml-sitemaps.com.
This website gives step by step instructions on how to create your XML Sitemap. You'll first need to enter your website URL and then select the frequency that your site is changed.
Next you can tell the search engines precisely when the last time your site was updated:
The Priority tag for your XML sitemap assigns a value to your URLs between 0.0 and 1.0, where 0.0 identifies the lowest priority URLs on your site and 1.0 identifies the highest priority URLs. The default priority of a page is 0.5.
Once you've filled out the necessary data, you can then run your XML Sitemap by clicking the “Start” Button.
As you can see in the image above, you can run a XML Sitemap for a website up to 500 pages for free. If your website has more than 500 pages that need to be indexed, you'll have to find an alternative sitemap generator, or pay for the advanced version.
Once you click “Start” the Sitemap crawler will start to build your XML Sitemap:
Once the Sitemap generator is finished running, you can download it and push it up to the public_html directory of your Exponent CMS website via FTP or cPanel/WHM.
You can verify that you've properly uploaded your XML sitemap by going to www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml It should look something like this:
Configuring Your XML Sitemap in Webmaster Tools
So now that you've created and uploaded your new XML Sitemap to your web server, you now must go to Webmaster tools for both Google and Bing and submit your XML Sitemap URL.
Google Webmaster Tools
In the Google Webmaster Tools, you can access the Sitemap configuration page from the dashboard, or on the left hand menu under Optimization by clicking the “Sitemaps” link.
Once you've landed on the Sitemaps configuration page, you can submit a new sitemap by clicking the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button on the right hand side.
There, you'll simply enter “sitemap.xml” in the rest of the URL field and click “Submit Sitemap”
You'll receive a “Sitemap Submitted” message to let you know that you've successfully completed the process:
Bing Webmaster Tools
Similarly to the Google Webmaster Tools, you can submit a XML Sitemap on the Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard under the “Sitemaps” section:
To submit the sitemap, simply click “Submit a Sitemap” and fill out your XML Sitemap URL:
Once you've filled out your URL, click submit and you're done.
You now have successfully notified the search engines about each page on your website. While it does not guarantee every page will be indexed, it does help eliminate URLs not getting picked up through normal crawling.
In Part V of this Advanced SEO Tips series, I'll discuss how to configure and install Google Analytics on your Exponent CMS website.
About the Author
Chris Everett is an organic SEO expert and is the founder of the Captivate Search Marketing search engine marketing firm in Atlanta, GA.