The Search Light Newsletter
The Search Light Newsletter
  Guiding your site to the top of the search engines... | 28 February 2006 - Vol 6 Issue #2  

In this issue...

Create a Google Sitemap for your Web Site

FAQ1: How can I get Google to update the cache on my pages?

FAQ2: Why doesn't my site show up in the first 20 pages of Google?

FAQ 3: Should we use mailto: on our web site?

Create a Google Sitemap for your Web Site

By Herman Drost
Google Sitemaps is a simple and fast way for your site to be constantly indexed and updated by Google.
This article will discuss the benefits of implementing this new technology, who should use it, how it works and how to create a Google Sitemap for your web site.
Benefits of having a Google Site Map
1. Speeds up the discovery and addition of your web pages in the Google index.
2. Enables Google to quickly find web pages that have been recently changed.
3. A method for your site to be listed and appear quickly in Google.
4. Helps Google to keep search content fresh, so people have the most up to date information available.
Who should use Google Sitemaps?
All site owners can use Google sitemaps whether you have one page or millions of pages, however it's mostly geared towards people that make frequent changes to their web pages.
Normally web pages on a large site will not all get indexed because the links are too deep within the site. By including all your pages in the Google Sitemap you have a better chance of them all being indexed as Google thrives on fresh content. According to Google, it won't increase your site's rankings.
How does it work?
Google sitemaps are created using XML (Extensible Markup Language). This is a coding language similar to HTML (though a little more complex). It is often used these days in syndicated feeds or blogs.
Here is the sample XML code you would include for each page of your site: (replace [square brackets] with < >)
Here is a breakdown of what each line represents:
location - name of your webpage ie
last modified - when you last modified the page.
change frequency - tells Google how often you modify that particular page, whether it's never, weekly, daily, hourly, monthly or yearly.
priority - sets the priority you want Google to place for that page on your site. You can prioritize your pages: 0.0 being the least, 1.0 being the highest, 0.5 is in the middle.
This is only relative to your site. It will not affect your rankings. Certain pages on your site may have more significance than others because they are updated more often ie home page, articles page.
How to Create a Dynamic Google SiteMap XML File
It would take a long time to create your Google Sitemap by hand especially if you have a site that contains 1000s of pages.
Fortunately Google provides the Sitemap Generator that allows you to generate a sitemap very quickly. It's a Python script that creates a Sitemap for your site using the Sitemap Protocol. This script can create Sitemaps from URL lists, web server directories, or from access logs.

You can read more about it here.
Other Sitemap Generators
Google has also compiled a list of third party generators.
Personally I use SiteMaps Pal - the free sitemap generator. It's simple to use and quickly produces the necessary XML code for your site.
Here are the steps on how to create your Sitemap using this free Sitemap Generator:
1. Go to SiteMaps Pal and enter your site's URL.
2. Copy the code that it generates for your site and paste it into notepad.
3. Save the text file as sitemap.xml
4. Upload this file to the root directory (same place as your home page) of your web server.
5. Open up a Google Site Map account and submit your site's address.
6. Every time you modify a page or pages, login to your Google account and click on the resubmit button.
7. Repeat this procedure for all of your web sites.
Google is still the largest and most accessed search engine on the Net. Each year millions of web sites get added to Google making your site harder to find. Creating a Google Sitemap will help your web pages stay fresh in Google's index.

Herman Drost is the Certified Internet Webmaster (CIW) owner and author of iSiteBuild, Affordable Web Site Design and Web Hosting. Subscribe to his "Marketing Tips" newsletter for more original articles. Read more of his in-depth articles here.

Like to Learn Search Engine Optimization?
Search engine optimization (SEO) can seem like a daunting topic if you are trying to understand it. Just how do you optimize your web site so that it will appear above millions of others in search results when your potential customers type in search queries?
The Problem:
Unfortunately, there is a lot of myth and legend about SEO floating around and it is easy to be led astray by misinformation or to accidentally use outdated tactics that can cause your site to be ignored, penalized in the search results or, in some cases, dropped from engines altogether!
The Solution:
Our step-by-step online SEO courses will show you how to avoid penalties and attain a higher search ranking for your site by following the webmaster guidelines set down by the search engines themselves.
You'll achieve higher search positions in no time, by making simple changes to your site so it becomes more user-friendly and more search engine compatible. And we'll show you how to do this in 10 easy to read, easy to follow, self-paced lessons. Click Here to Register.

Enter our Funny Photo Caption Competition
Got a funny caption for the photo above? Submit the funniest and win a self study course of your choice and a link from the Search Engine College site. Here are some standout entries so far:
"Oh look honey, it says here the ex president of Nigeria needs our help transmitting funds."
"Wow, this month I made a whole dollar with AdSense!"
"Don't worry, it's just a letter from Google to let us know our site's been banned again.

Winners announced next month. For your chance to win, submit your own caption entry by midnight on 31 March.

   Greetings Readers!

Remember those search-related projects I mentioned last issue that I had in the pipeline? Well the first has been launched.
The Lounge has just opened this week for SEC students, graduates, webmasters and search engine optimization / search engine marketing consultants. It's designed as a meeting place and a one-stop-shop for everything search engine related, including news, articles, links, forums, blogs & newsfeeds, newsletters, merchandise, tools, software, FAQs, worldwide search engine lists, events, competitions, books and training.
Persons signing up for free membership to The Lounge gain access to extra resources, including our most popular areas: the employment forums and the search industry discount area. We want to make The Lounge an invaluable search engine resource and one of your most visited bookmarks so please submit your ideas and suggestions for ways we can improve things.

And while we're on the subject of improvements - did you hear that Google is now actively contacting webmasters to let them know if their sites have been penalized for spamming? Yep, it's true. Read all about it here. Good one Google!
Enjoy this month's article about how to create a Google SiteMap and remember to visit the daily Search Engine Advice Column to check out my answers to frequently asked search engine questions or submit one of your own.
Till next time - wishing you high rankings...

  • FAQ1: How can I get Google to update the cache on my pages?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    Thanks so much for your blog. I cannot begin to tell you how much I have learned in the past few months.
    My question today is there any way to get Google to update the cache on some of my pages? If the cache has not been updated in a year, can I assume that Google feels the page is really irrelevent?
    Sunny regards,

    Dear Lisa
    Thanks for the feedback on the blog. Now to answer your question, don't assume anything with Google! Just because the big G hasn't indexed your page in a while or is showing an outdated version, doesn't necessarily mean anything bad. Google and other search engines move to their own beat when it comes to collecting, sorting and displaying updated page content.
    Here are a few ways to improve your chances of having your pages indexed and cached more regularly by Google:
    * Use a robots.txt file with specific instructions to Googlebot regarding pages you want indexed or avoided.
    * Create and submit an XML site map to Google SiteMaps.
    * Use a reliable hosting firm to make sure your site is live 24/7.
    * Update your page content regularly (this can be achieved easily by creating a blog or newsfeed).
    * Improve the link popularity of your site by acquiring one way links pointing to it from high quality related sites and directories. This article should help.
    * Create unique, useful, humorous and timely content that people will want to link to and visit on a regular basis.

  • FAQ2: Why doesn't my site show up in the first 20 pages of Google?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    My website, seems to never show up in google's search engine. My website is indexed by google, but it never shows up in the first, oh, 20 pages when you search for anti theft devices or car alarms. Can you help?

    Dear Richard
    It's simple. Your site doesn't rank high because Google doesn't see it as being more relevant than the sites that DO show up in the first 20 pages.
    If you want to be found higher, you've got to do a better job at:
    1) optimizing your site for target search queries (I suggest taking a beginner's course in search engine optimization). I don't see the phrase "car alarms" within the visible text on your home page. How can you expect Google to consider your site relevant for this phrase if it doesn't even appear on your most important page?
    2) manually building your site's link popularity amongst similarly-themed sites.
    3) improving and adding to your site content so it becomes more popular and more relevant to your target search queries.
    Good luck!

  • FAQ 3: Should we use mailto: on our web site?
  •    Dear Kalena...
    We use the mailto: direct on many pages of our website. This is just one method by which people can contact us (including an online enquiry form which can be submitted etc).
    However, when logging on in internet cafes (and anywhere that personal email is not set-up on the computer) users get an error message. We have had such users contact us to tell them there is a problem with our website, not understanding that the problem is with the computer set-up.
    Is there anyway you can change the error message to make it more user-friendly? Alternatively, do you think it's possible to divert mailto to our online enquiry form in this instance?
    What would you recommend?
    Thanks! Lucy

    Dear Lucy
    I know it's commonly used, but in these days of excessive spam and virus circulation, MailTo: is not a good protocol to use on a website. It's too easy for spambots and hackers to scour your site and pick up your email address in their travels.
    One way to trick spambots is to use a free email protection program like Natata Anti-Spam Encoder which locates email addresses on web pages and encodes them into a format that cannot be understand by spiders or robots but can still be readable by the web browser and people. Unfortunately, this does not stop humans from taking note of your email address and manually adding you to junk mail lists. Plus it doesn't solve your roaming user problems.
    Instead, I would recommend changing all your mailto: links to point to your online enquiry form. It should just be a matter of using your code editing "find and replace" tool. You should also make sure that the email address your enquiry form submits to is hidden in the code (I can see from your site that it currently is not hidden). You can use Natata for this purpose.

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