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 Chapter - 8.4 Google Site Maps

8.4.1 Introduction From Google

The Sitemap Protocol allows you to inform search engines about URLs on your websites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap that uses the Sitemap Protocol is an XML file that lists URLs for a site. The protocol written to be highly scalable so it can accommodate sites of any size. It also enables webmasters to include additional information about each URL (when it was last updated; how often it changes; how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
Sitemaps are particularly beneficial when users cannot reach all areas of a website through a browseable interface. (Generally, this is when users are unable to reach certain pages or regions of a site by following links). For example, any site where certain pages are only accessible via a search form would benefit from creating a Sitemap and submitting it to search engines.

8.4.2 Introduction

To summarize the Google introduction: All you need is to generate a single XLM formatted file, which would contain the list of pages at your site.
Google Site Maps for Rapid Classified automates the task of creating XML output file compatible with Site Map protocol v0.9. XML created by administrator from a "Site Map" admin page. Site Map XML feed could be generated as often as desired. There are preset pages, which could be included with the feed and the option to add custom or any other pages located at your classified.
Preset pages list includes the most important pages (from SEO stand point) and pages which generate dynamic site content (ads list, cached ads, ads list.. etc). All other pages could be included custom. Once the custom list created it would be stored in database and could be modified at any time.

Note: Site Map file(s) generated at this page could be submitted into any Search Engine (other than Google) if they support Site Map submissions.

8.4.3 Configuration

Site Map Configuration page accessed from Admin tasks page.

Before you start, familiarize yourself with Site Map protocol: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=156184

or http://www.sitemaps.org/

After finishing with configurations, make sure to click "Save Configs and Custom Pages Data" button before generating Site Map with "Create Site Map" button.

Site Map location

Start by deciding where the generated feed would be located. All the way at the bottom of generator page there is a setting [Site Map Location] with 3 choices: Banners Folder, Site Root, Classified Root.

The location of generated Site Map XML feed must have "Write" permissions so that the script can create a file at that location. Out of folders, which require "Write" permissions for RC functionality, the Banners folder is the list crowded and it was selected for the purpose of Site Map XML feed location.

On the other hand, Google requires that Site Map file be located at the submitted URL Address. This means if you selected "Banners folder", then each time you generate Site Map feed file you'd need to move it into main RC location or to your Site Root (in case if your classified located in some folder off the Site Root). This is not convenient; but if you are unable to assign "Write" permission to the RC or Site root, then you would need to move generated file from Banners folder to the RC root via FTP each time file generated.

Some web hosts such as jodohost.com, thecoasthost.com.au, dietwebhosting.com allows writing files at any site level. If you're on one of those hosts or you are able to set "Write" permission (either via site control panel or by asking a host) to main RC or the Site Root location, then you may select Site Root or Classified Root from [Site Map Location] drop down box on Google Site Map "Generator" admin page.

Given that you have "Write" permissions on all folders, if your Rapid Classified installation is at the Root of your site and can be navigated by http://www.yourdomain.com then there is no difference between Site Root and Classified Root selections.

If however the Classified is for instance at: http://www.yourdomain.com/classified/ then the Classified Root selection would generate Site Map file at http://www.yourdomain.com/classified/ and as oppose, Site Root selection would generate it at http://www.yourdomain.com/ . It is advisable to create it at the Site Root because this way, you would be able to custom include pages located at the Site Root (pages other that Rapid Classified pages).

Selecting pages

Next, decide what pages you would like include into Site Map. Check the box in an Include column to have this page included into the list. Select priority and update frequency for each selected page.

Custom pages

Optionally provide a full URL address for any custom pages you would like to include into the Site Map. Enter as many as you would like. One entry per line. Each entry MUST have priority and update frequency attributes included. The syntax for custom entry is as following:

FULL_URL_Address|pr|fr

where:

FULL_URL_Address – Address to custom page started with htt://
Pr – page priority. Values range 0.0-1.0
Fr – update frequency. Values – always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, never

Example: http://site.com/somepage.asp|0.4|weekly

IMPORTANT:

  • Custom links syntax must be consistent with the reference above. Even if just one entry invalid, Google would invalidate the entire Site Map file.
  • The entire URL must be in all lower case.
  • Any text within URL would be UTF-8 encoded.

Splitting Site Map file

Site Map file must be split if the total number of links within it exceed 50000 or if the sitemap file size is over 10Mb.

Sitemap generator has an automated splitter built-in. If you expect that the number of links at the site would exceed the limit, then check the "Split SiteMaps file" box and type the number of links to "Split After". Default value if 20000 links. That means if the total number of links in site map - 68349, then 5 sitemap files would be generated as following:

sitemap1.xml – 20000 links
sitemap2.xml – 20000 links
sitemap3.xml – 20000 links
sitemap4.xml – 8349 links

In addition, site map engine generates a sitemaps.xml index file. This is a sitemap of the sitemaps. In other words, this index file lists all generates sitemapN.xml files.

Note: if you used splitter, then the sitemaps.xml file is the one you need to submit to Search Engine.

Use keywords in URLs

This configuration may override Allow Keywords in URL set in URL Rewrite section at the Miscellaneous Configs admin page.

Important: All text/keywords in URLs within site map would be UTF-8 encoded.

If classified running with non-Latin language and Allow Keywords in URL set to [no], preventing encoded, non-user friendly text within site links, then you may set Use keywords in URLs to allow keywords in URL links for site maps. Links encoded with UTF-8 would properly display non-Latin text at the SE result pages (which also encoded with UTF-8).

After finishing with configurations, make sure to click "Save Configs and Custom Pages Data" button before generating Site Map with "Create Site Map" button.

8.4.4 Generating Site Map file(s)

Click "Create Site Map" to generate sitemap xml file(s). Depending on a number of links, it might take a while to finish the job. Do not click any links/buttons until you receive a message:

Generated SiteMaps with reference to [NNNN] pages

To view generated sitemap file(s) click "Statistics" link.

If splitter was not enabled, then you would see a reference to a single file sitemap.xml. This is the file you would need to submit to SE.

If splitter was enabled, then you would see a reference to a number of sitemap files and in addition a reference to sitemap index file sitemaps.xml. In this case, you would only need to submit this index file to SE.

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