Sitemaps are an integral part of every modern website. Their importance cannot be overstated, which is why each webmaster must take special care to provide one for search engines to analyze. In essence, a sitemap is a file containing a list of all URLs which can be found on a website. They are usually formatted through HTML, with XML becoming more popular with the rise in prominence of search engines in recent decades. The main purpose of a sitemap is to ensure that search engine crawlers, as well as site visitors, can effectively track site content irrespective of where the URLs are embedded on the site. Both users and search engines bots and users can do without sitemaps, but this makes both crawling and regular browsing more difficult and prone to errors. There is no guarantee that either will be able to find the pages they are looking for. What makes crawling especially difficult without a sitemap is the sheer number of pages some websites include, often numbering in the thousands. That is many URLs to parse through and make sense of.
There are two design philosophies when creating a sitemap: doing it manually or using specialized software in the form of a sitemap generator. While the manual approach can work for smaller sites, it is often error-prone, time-consuming, and requires technical expertise which most website owners simply do not possess. The software-based approach is much simpler and efficient in comparison, making sitemap creation, submission, validation and updating a relatively painless affair. There are many sitemap creation applications on the market for all sorts of user needs. There are free and paid options, XML and HTML based ones, those with visual and textual representation, downloadable and online variants, so there is something for everyone. In the rest of this article, we will give an overview of some of our favorite ones.
Screaming Frog XML Sitemap Generator
SEO experts and aficionados are probably familiar with Screaming Frog products such as their SEO spider, which enables webmasters to crawl up to 500 URLs of their website in order to capture relevant SEO data and identify any potential errors. Once you are done with crawling, the Screaming Frog Sitemap Generator can easily produce XML sitemap with a click of a button, which makes optimizing your website for Google a breeze. This software suit is convenient to use, with included wizards to guide every step of the process. Its bundling with powerful SEO tools make it indispensable for webmasters administrating professional websites.
DYNO mapper is a great visual tool for developing interactive sitemaps which display more than just URLs – users can collaborate and post comments, there are tools for analytics, categorization, and more.
DYNO mapper sets itself apart from the competition by offering options for additional visual customization of your website’s sitemap. It has project management features and tools which allow for multi-user collaboration, commenting, analytics, categorization options, to name a few. The software is also fairly user-friendly thanks to its drag-and-drop interface. There are three basic sitemap forms to choose from (circle, free, and the default one), with the option to add your own logo design for branding purposes. It also supports different payment options, including a free two week trial period with full functionality. Visual-minded webmasters can should definitely check this one out.
The main advantage of Powermapper is its one-click, automatic site mapping feature which can save a lot of time for webmasters juggling multiple projects at once. It can also help with website planning, troubleshooting existing sitemaps, identifying compatibility issues, and offering suggestions for improving usability. There are a number of visual styles on offer, but with less customization options than DYNO mapper for example. It offers two output options, XML or CSV, which are compatible with all relevant search engines. PowerMapper developers offer a number of additional map-making software packages with different features, in a variety of distributions including a SAAS-based web app. A hefty one month trial offers plenty of time to explore all the available options.
Inspyder Sitemap Creator
Inspyder is a simple, quick desktop install for a one-time cost that lets you generate accurate XML sitemaps, in addition to mobile-specific, image, and even video sitemaps. The beauty of Inspyder’s Sitemap Creator is its simplicity. It is quick to install on desktop, allowing webmasters to create precise XML sitemaps, for a reasonable one time fee. It can also make mobile-focused sitemaps, as well as image and video ones. This software package also includes features that allow you directly upload your sitemap to your server, notify Google crawlers about any changes, and send you email notifications whenever there is a problem – it is truly convenient. Inspyder has more to offer as well, including free URL and HTML encoder tools for higher level webmasters. These can come bundled with your Sitemap Creator purchase, providing extra value and utility.
XML-sitemaps.com is a free online service for generating sitemaps. It is most useful when you need to a create sitemap for website of sub 500 pages. If you decide to a register a user account, the free version will allow you to submit a sitemap directly from the company servers, update it later without needing to re-upload, as well as to easily manage several websites. The pro version additionally offers indexing of more than a million pages, automatic sitemap updates, sitemap creation for image, video and news sites, a broken link detector, and more. The software is easy to use, no need for advanced technical expertise. XML-sitemaps.com offers a number of other features as well, including tools for XML sitemap validation, competitor analysis, keyword density calculation, and SERP page checking.
Sitemap creation is only a small step in the process of developing online presence, but an important one nonetheless. It makes the process of search engine indexing much easier for crawlers, which makes your website more likely to be ranked higher by Google. Additionally, sitemaps can be useful both for visitors trying to find their way around your website, as well as for website developers needing to keep track of the URL structure of a site in a clear and concise way.