Sitemaps help your website in a number of ways. They can help move your website up on the search results pages. This is accomplished by giving your site what I call “an Index as in a hard cover book.”
Sitemap can mean a couple of things. Larger sites like ecommerce and retail sites have visual site maps that can be utilized for quick navigation. Smaller sites have a sitemap that is simple and possibly just outline main category pages in the site.
Some other benefits to having a sitemap include:
Sitemaps will let search engines know what pages on the site are more important.
Sitemaps will let the search engines know what pages are updated more often. This helps them to pay more attention to the pages that are updated frequently.
Sitemaps will help let the search engines know when content has been added or updated on your site.
How is a sitemap made? They are made by software tools that generate it from reading the site’s content. You can search the Internet for sitemap generators, sitemapdocs, or XML Sitemaps.
The other kind of sitemap is developed for search engines to index your site. These kinds of sitemaps can take many forms. Google and Yahoo! accept XML feeds of your website. There are free programs that create a XML sitemap of your website that you can provide to them. They offer this as a way to have your site be recognized “easily” by Google and Yahoo! So why not take their suggestion?
Once you have the sitemap you should:
Put the sitemap file in the root directory on your server with the primary index file.
Let the search engines know you have a sitemap. Create a Google webmaster account and submit your new site map there.
Put a reference to the sitemap file in your robots.txt file. Many search engines will be able to find your site map even if you have not submitted it to them specifically.
Maintain it. Whenever a page is added to your site you should add it on the sitemap. Every time something is updated on your sire, change the “lastmod” setting in the sitemap.