Guides By Eshop Hosts 4.7.2012 No Comments

Boost your eCommerce SEO with an XML Sitemap

Creating and keeping up to date XML sitemaps for ecommerce website pages means better search engine optimisation by helping the search engines fully index your product, category and other important pages.

By having and submitting XML sitemaps for ecommerce websites to the search engines it is similar to sending out an invitation to an event and supplying them a routemap of the preferred attractions to visit. It is your opportunity to advise the search engine crawlers of which of your website pages you give most or least importance to so they know which ones to focus their attention to.

What Is an XML Sitemap?

XML is an abbreviation for Extensible Markup Language which is a format that the search engines and other data readers use and read, many suppliers offer resellers data feeds to help populate their websites using XML. An XML format sitemap is constructed to offer your website pages and structure along with other related information that is beneficial to the search engine in a standard or preferred layout that the search engines prefer.

how an xml sitemap looks

Understanding an XML Sitemap

All XML Sitemaps use the same XML version and urlset and contain a uniform set of tags for each of your ecommerce website urls listed within it. Some of the information wrapped within tags is required and some is optional. The information wrapped in the tags for each of your Urls will give the Search Engines information such as the absolute URL or locator for a page, the last modification date of the Url, the frequency that the page content or information changes and the pages importance or priority within the website.

XML sitemaps for search engine optimisation

XML sitemaps for ecommerce websites can list information for Urls on the same domain and different subdomains for your ecommerce website or even urls on completely seperate domains. The only limitations are the maximum sizes that your XML sitemap should be, which is a maximum of 50,000 URLs per sitemap file or upto 10MB in memory size. If you have a larger ecommerce website and your XML sitemap is large, then its best to compress the file using gzip which is also acceptable by the search engines and will also reduce the amount of bandwidth being uses to view and download the file.

Another regularly used method is to have a series of sitemaps that each cover different sections of your ecommerce website, for example a sitemap that lists just the product categories, one that lists just products, and one for customer reviews and so on. If you have many different XML sitemaps then you will also need to have an XML sitemap index file which will contain lists a summary and relevant links and details for all XML sitemaps for your ecommerce website.

How to generate an XML Sitemap

If your ecommerce website is based on one of the many Open Source shopping carts such uas Zen Cart, Open Cart, Prestashop or Magento to name just a few then if they will usually have an inbuilt XML generator facility or there will be a module or plug in that can be installed to do the task. these are the best ones as they are designed to function in a way that generates a series of XML sitemaps for ecommerce websites along with the Sitemap index file along with automatically setting the other information such as the last modification date, priority and recommended next crawl date etc.

If your shopping cart doesn’t have the facility to auto generate and update XML sitemaps for your website then there are XML Sitemap generating websites available to use online that are free or low cost that you can use. After signing up and submitting your ecommerce website Url, these will send a crawler robot to your website that will crawl and index all your pages and usually create a zipped Sitemap XML for you to upload to your website file directory.

Once you have generated any XML sitemaps for your website the next step is to include the urls to them in your robots.txt file so that any search engine crawlers that visit your website are informed of their location. If you have webmaster tools accounts (which you should do!) for any of the search engines such as Google, Bing or Yahoo then you will have the option to submit your website Sitemaps in your account areas of their websites.

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