XML Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional meta data about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is/priority in relation to other URLs in the site) so that search engines / robots can more intelligently crawl the site.
Web crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps supplement this data to allow crawlers that support Sitemaps to pick up all URLs in the Sitemap and learn about those URLs using the associated metadata. Using the Sitemap protocol does not guarantee that web pages are included in search engines, but provides hints for web crawlers/robots to do a better job of crawling your site.
Manual submission versus automatic submission
Many choose to update their XML sitemaps manually (re-submission when new content added) which is OK if your site content rarely changes. The main advantage of an automatic sitemap is that you completely eliminate the need to create and submit your sitemap to the search engines and you can explain to the web crawlers the structure of your site (setting priority). The main pages on your site that will benefit from automatic sitemap are the pages which include last modified date eg: news stories and blog posts and articles.
The value of the automatic sitemaps
The value of automatic sitemaps to the site, is that spiders will crawl updated content areas readily and without prompt of a new manual submission freeing up the webmasters time to concentrate on adding new content and new features to the site. Automatic sitemaps inform “this page changes ie: weekly” as they can see the up to date last modified stamp (with manual: this will be the same date for all pages). As the web has moved to real time online posting, we believe that the addition of an automatic sitemap now has even more importance.
The supporting meta data we recommend as standard includes: Location, Priority, Last modified date, Change frequency. Note the Meta data used in the XML sitemap is dependent on your site and there may be more extensions or exclusions to add.
Rocktime Sitemap Manager
With upgrades to our CMS, you can adapt the sitemap directly from within our CMS system.
NB: In order to get the sitemap to be automatic some changes were made to our CMS, as some pages being physical pages and others being page managed a technical rule was established so that the computer could determine which is the most appropriate page (managed or physical) to choose the “last modified date” from.
Find out more
To learn more about our Automatic XML sitemap generation tool available within our CMS talk to the Rocktime sales team.