Webmasters As Information Providers

Finding information about web sites is an important part of the equation, but Google webmaster tools also give the chance for site owners to provide information about their sites. Nobody knows better then site owners about the content of their web pages, and using this information can help Google to classify pages with even better accuracy.

Google services for webmasters has features that allows web masters to provide this kind of information. One of the things that a site owner can do to improve the coverage by Google is to create a site map. A site map is a file that describes the contents of the web site: the number of pages, where they are, and what is their content. The site map is an important tool, because it improves the accuracy with which the Google crawler can navigate the web site.

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The normal way web crawlers work is by exploration: they start in a visible web page, most frequently the default of page of a web site. Then, they will collect the links pointing to other pages in the web site, until they hopefully have a list of all pages in the web site. While this process works well most of the time, it is not optimal.

First of all, it wastes time and bandwidth of the web site in which the process is done. Second, there is always the possibility the some web page is not visible from the home page. This means that some web pages in a site can never be known by the search engine, unless there is a link from an external page pointing to that location.

A site map can avoid this situation by providing the full list of web pages in the web site. To create a site map in Google webmaster tools, you just need to click on the “sitemaps” tab. From there, a “load sitemap” button is available, which will ask for the location of the sitemap file.

Physically, the site map is just an XML file with entries that correspond to the required information, such as page name and location. Several tools are available for automatic creation of site maps. For example, if you use WordPress blogs, there is a free plug in (called “Google Sitemaps”) that can be used to read all entries in the site and create a site map. In fact, the software will even automatically upload the site map to Google.

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