Your sitemap, when built correctly, is the tour guide of your website. It tells search engines which pages are your “featured attractions”, and which pages are like the Disneyworld changing rooms: off limits. Your sitemap also makes it easy for search engines to take note when you’ve updated your website or added new content.
While we might consider Google the God of search engines, there are still two other search engines out there indexing your site, and they make up for 15-20% of search traffic.
We tend to focus our efforts on Google, which makes up for three quarters of search engine traffic, but when it’s as simple as this, it doesn’t hurt to give the “little guys” a tour map also.
Information to have on hand before you submit a sitemap
Most of these tools will require some information from you, and may require you to add a snippet of code to your site before they can verify its authenticity. Before submitting your sitemap, make sure you:
- Know your sitemap address (if you don’t have one, you can create one here or here)
- Have a valid email address where robot errors can be sent
- Have an MSN and Yahoo! account
Three places to submit your sitemap:
1. Google Webmaster Tools – The first time you submit a sitemap, you need to add it to your Google Webmaster Tools account. Google’s instructions:
- Upload your Sitemap to your site in the highest level directory you want search engines to crawl, generally the root. If you list URLs in your Sitemap that are at a higher level than your Sitemap location, Google will be unable to include those URLs as part of the Sitemap submission.
- Make sure you have added your site to your Webmaster Tools account.
- On the Dashboard, click Add next to the site for which you want to add a Sitemap.
- Type the URL to your Sitemap location in the provided field.
- Click Submit Sitemap.
Unlike Google, before you can submit your sitemap to Yahoo! and MSN, you need to have a valid account with them. Before you say “oh, I’m already indexed by them, I’m not going to bother,” think twice. Just because you’re indexed by Yahoo! and MSN, doesn’t mean you’re indexed well. Take a few minutes to set up an account and be on your merry way.
2. Yahoo Site Explorer – For the most direct way to submit your sitemap to Yahoo, follow these steps:
- Copy the link to your Sitemap file.
- Sign in to your Yahoo! account.
- Enter the URL for your sitemap in the Submit Site feed field in Yahoo Site Explorer
- Click Submit Feed.
In addition to submitting your Sitemaps to Yahoo! Search through Site Explorer, you can:
- Send an HTTP request. (Send using their ping API.)
- Specify the Sitemap location in your site’s robots.txt file
You may also wish to authenticate your site with Yahoo! Site Explorer if you have not already done so.
3. Live Webmaster Center – Once you’ve sent your sitemap to Google and Yahoo!, this process will be very simple. After you’ve logged into their Webmaster Center, you’re immediately prompted to submit your site URL and sitemap.
That’s it… Now if someone accuses you of ignoring Yahoo! and MSN, you can tell them you’ve done your best. It’s not your fault Yahoo! and Live.com didn’t get a GPS for Christmas.