Sitemap SEO

 Introduction to Sitemaps
Search engines (such as Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc.) find the information in your site using software agents, also called "crawlers", "spiders" or "robots", that scan the entire Web. When a "crawler", "spider" or "robot" finds a site, they try to follow a maximum amount of links in order to assemble the information from a maximum amount of pages. This crawler then visits the site periodically to try to find updates or changes.

Sitemaps is a new technology that allows you to reverse the roles by directly supplying search engines with the information concerning the existence and location of your pages in order to guarantee the exhaustive indexing of your site.

The Sitemap file that Actinic is going to generate is simply a new representation of the information contained in your site. This representation, while tedious for a user because it is not organised for human individuals, offers search engines the advantage of containing all of the dynamic pages of your site (each product page, each category page, etc., for example).

Using Sitemap files is absolutely free of charge and can improve the quality of search engine indexing. However, note that search engines are careful not to give explicit guarantees on the fact that the pages listed in the files will be visited, analyzed, or even indexed. Sitemaps is simply a way for you to ensure that search engines will find all of the important pages in your site. In no way is it a means for you to guarantee yourself a better position in the search results.
The only thing that is certain is that using Sitemaps files can in no way be harmful to your site's search engine optimisation.

Everyone can use Sitemap files, whether your site is only made up of several pages or incorporates a catalog containing thousands of products.

Today, the Sitemaps standard is supported by the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo and MSN (Live Search).

Consult the following site for more information about the Sitemaps standard:
http://www.sitemaps.org
 
 Information About Generating Sitemaps
Actinic has integrated a powerful tool for generating your Sitemap files. You can generate a Sitemap file for each language published on your site and this file will only contain the elements associated to this language. For example, if your site is available in English and in French with two distinct domain names "MyDomain.co.uk" and "MyDomain.fr", the Sitemap file associated to the "MyDomain.co.uk" domain name will only contain the menus and the items associated to the English language.

The files are automatically regenerated on a weekly basis in order to accurately reflect the latest changes made to your site. You also have the possibility of requesting additional file regeneration in addition to those that are automatically performed. You can use this possibility after you have made significant changes to the structure of your site (new pages, new menus, new items, etc.). However, regeneration is pointless if you only change the description of one or several items. Indeed, the Sitemap file only contains links, and not the content of your pages!
 
 Creating Sitemap Files
The Sitemap file management page can be accessed through the [Marketing\Sitemap SEO] menu.

Once on the page, add a new Sitemap file. Define the associated language and elements from your site that will be taken into account in the regeneration. Save the properties.
At this time, your request will be recorded and your file will be generated in the following 5 to 10 minutes. Come back to this page a little later or refresh it using the button provided for this purpose.

Once the generation is complete, view the Sitemap properties. This is where you will find the address of the file. Attention: If you need to copy this address, don't omit the parameters (Acct ID, Lang)!
 
 Submitting Sitemap Files
The Yahoo and Bing search engines (since 2010, Yahoo Search is in fact Bing) automatically find and take the Sitemap files into account if they are declared in the robots.txt file of your site. This is the case with Actinic! For information, the robots.txt file, which is intended for search engines, is located in your website's root directory. Therefore, you don't have to do anything concerning the Sitemap SEO of your site in these two search engines.

However, Bing provides a manual submission possibility, as well as index tracking tools. If you would like more information concerning these possibilities, you can consult the following page:
http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

Google requires a manual submission. This subject is addressed in the following section of this guide.
 
 Submit Your Sitemap File To Google
You must manually submit your Sitemap file to Google.
Before performing this procedure, you must generate your Sitemap file.
Note that the procedure described below may change because Google may modify their administration interface at any time.

1) Google Configuration
Open the following page:
https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/login?hl=en

Create an account (free of charge) if you don't already have a Google account.
Once on the home page of your Google account, you are going to need to add a site by specifying the URL of your site. To do so, fill in the address of the domain name associated to your Sitemap file. This URL will be in the following format:
http://www.MyDomainName.com

2) Google Verification Code
Once your site has been registered in the Google interface, you are going to have to validate it to prove to Google that you are, indeed, the owner of this site.
To do this, follow the verification procedure proposed by Google. In a new page, Google is going to ask you to specify the verification method that you want to use. Choose the META tag method ("Add a meta tag"). Google will then display a specific META tag code that you need to position in your Actinic site.

3) Insert the Verification Code
To insert the verification code, open a NEW browser window and go to the administration space of your Actinic site (of course, if your administration space is already open, you can use it).
In the Actinic administration space, open the page accessible through the [Site\Properties by Language] menu and click on the [Modify] button.
Simply copy the META tag provided by Google in the "Free text block inserted in the HTML header" zone and save this modification.

IMPORTANT: To advance to the following validation step, your site must be open to the public.

4) Site Verification
Go back to the administration space of your Google account.
Google is going to ask you to confirm that you have placed the META tag in your site. Launch the verification ([Verify] button). To be sure that your site has been verified by Google, go back to the dashboard of your Google Sitemaps account. You should see a line containing your site and a green check mark indicating that your site has been verified.
The verification procedure for your site is a one-time operation. You will not have to repeat this operation. Leave the Google tag in your site's header because Google may periodically come back to verify this tag.

5) Add a Sitemap
Once your site has been created and verified in Google, you will now have the possibility of adding your Sitemap file. To do so, click on the "Add" link (under the heading "Sitemap") in the line containing your site. If Google asks you for the type of your Sitemap file, select the generic type. Next, indicate the exact URL of your Sitemap file. This URL is prefixed by "Sitemap File URL Address" in the administration space of your Actinic site.

Example: (Don't add the entire address. Only use the information after the domain name.)
Sitemap.asp?AccID=XXXXX&LangID=0

To validate your Sitemap file, Google may ask you for a set of confirmations via several check boxes. Check all of the boxes before submitting your file.

Google then makes sure that the URL you have provided is exact by displaying the "Sitemaps" page that contains the Sitemap file that you have submitted, as well as the analysis status of this file. When you submit a Sitemap file, the first status is defined as "Pending", which means that the analysis of your file is going to take place as soon as possible. Once Google has checked the file (which may take several days), the status will be changed to "OK" or "Error".

Google will reread your Sitemap files periodically. You don't need to resubmit your files because Actinic regenerates them on a regular basis. However, you can come back to your Google administration space from time to time to follow the evolution of the indexing of your site.
 

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