Sitemaps, Their Purpose, and Some Helpful Resources to Create Your Own
Sitemaps are a great tool for both web designers and visitors. Of course, there are two different types of sitemaps, 1) XML sitemaps (also known as Google sitemaps) and 2) HTML sitemaps. Each type serves its own purpose.
An HTML sitemap can be used effectively to increase the usability of a website by providing a page that links out to every page on the site (or at least to the major pages, depending on the size of the site). Navigation is of course one of the most important aspects to creating a user-friendly site, and when visitors aren’t able to easily find what they are looking for, many will turn to a sitemap. As a result, the HTML sitemap can help to keep visitors on your site by showing them where to find specific information. Additionally, because the sitemap links to all of the other pages on the website, they can be helpful to search engine spiders as they are crawling through the site.
XML sitemaps are created especially for search engines, and they’re not useful to human visitors like an HTML sitemap would be. Most of the major search engines are now using XML sitemaps to find and index all of the appropriate pages on a website that provides an XML sitemap. For website owners that want to be sure that Google is aware of all of their pages, this is the best option. A number of the tools that we’ll look at below can help you to easily create an XML sitemap automatically, and some of them will even update the sitemap as new pages are added to the site.
Sitemap Tools and Resources
Sitemaps.org – If you’re still looking for more information on XML sitemaps, check here.
Google Webmaster Tools Sitemap Generator – Google Webmaster Tools can help you to generate your XML sitemap, and then you’ll want to verify the sitemap through Webmaster Tools so Google knows it exists.
XML-Sitemaps.com – Probably the easiest way to get your own XML sitemap (and it’s free). With this tool all you need to do is enter your URL and wait for a few moments. You’ll then have an XML file that you can upload to your server. This tool even gives you the option of how frequently you want the sitemap to be updated. I have used this one myself on a few occasions.
AutoSitemap – This tool is similar to XML-Sitemaps.com. With AutoSitemap you can create an XML sitemap for very large sites (up to 50,000 pages). This a free version and a paid version that offers a few more features.
Sitemaps-Builder.com – This is a simple (and free) online tool for quickly creating an XML sitemap.
XMLSitemap.com – Another free online sitemap generator. This one also lets you set a frequency for it to be updated.
Google Sitemap Validator – Smart IT Consulting offers a free validator for XML sitemaps. Simply enter the URL of your sitemap and give it a minute to process.
Sitemapgen – SourceForge has a downloadable sitemap generator. I haven’t personally used this tool because of the other online options that don’t require a download.
SitemapDoc – At this site you can create both an XML sitemap and an HTML sitemap.
WriteMaps – Create, edit, and share your sitemaps online.
Simple Map – A free tool for creating XML or HTML sitemaps.
Online Sitemap Creator – This tool will create an HTML sitemap. I tried it and it did a pretty good job for the static part of the website, but not for the blog.
AutoMapIt.com – This website will create XML and HTML sitemaps, and it has a few other tools as well. To use the tools you’ll have to create an account and link back to them.
WordPress Sitemap Tools
Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator – A simple plugin that will create an XML sitemap and update it with your new posts.
Sitemap Generator Plugin – This plugin from Dagon Design will create a nice HTML sitemap that includes links to all of your posts and pages.
XML Sitemap – An easy way for Drupal users to create an XML sitemap.