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An XML sitemap is a list of URLs that tells search engines how a site is organised. They can help site crawlers find pages they might otherwise miss, and tells search engines how to sort and categorise traffic. They are also useful for ensuring video content gets included in search results. Learn more about sitemaps.

See here for the latest version: http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/sitemap.xml

We use https://freesitemapgenerator.com/ (FSMG) to generate our sitemaps. Contact the Web Team if you need the login details.

(warning) FSMG is a very popular site and often suffers when it's being used heavily. Early in the morning seems to be a better time. If site speed is unbearably slow, do something else for a bit.

We are using the free account, so must generate new sitemaps manually. We don't create new pages that often, so updating it once a month is probably about right (as of March 2016). A reminder to do this has been set in the webadmin calendar.

Generating the sitemap

  1. after logging on, go to the control panel on FSMG
  2. click 'make sitemap'

The sitemap will be placed in a queue, which is often quite long. The site will email the web admin address when the map is complete.

Settings

Before you make the sitemap, you can review settings by clicking 'edit':

  • . FSMG sets this to the date the sitemap was created. 
  • . A value from 0 to 1 which indicates to a search engine how important a page is to us. It's estimated by FSMG based on links to a page
  • . Tells search engines how often to expect changes to content (daily, weekly, monthly etc.). Also estimated by FSMG.

(question) We currently use these tags, but maybe would should turn them off?

It seems that these are entirely optional. No-one knows if Google pay any attention to them or not, but the consensus seems to be that they are largely ignored.

The three other settings ('auto upload', 'auto ping Google' and 'auto ping Bing') involve downloading FSMG's auto-upload package. We don't know if this is secure so should probably not use it.

Downloading and adding the sitemap

Once FSMG has emailed to say the sitemap is ready, click 'download' from the control panel. The sitemap is downloaded as a zip file, which you'll need to extract. Copy it into the test server's root directory:

\\mnsv-laszlo.campus.bath.ac.uk\management

You should test the sitemap loads before copying to the live server. Some characters can cause issues (umlauts for example). At this point you can edit it if you wish, but there should be no need. Once you have made and saved any changes, publish to the live server.

Errors

FSMG will notify you that it's discovered some errors (at the time of writing 175 of them). These are most likely 404 (page not found) errors. These can be ignored - they refer to legacy URLs which are commented out in the HTML. Any errors which aren't 404 may need investigation.

Notify Google and Bing that you've got a new sitemap

Tell Google the sitemap has been updated. Do this through the search console.

  1. login, and click on http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/
  2. under 'crawl', select 'sitemaps'
  3. click 'Add/Test Sitemap'
  4. input 'sitemap.xml' and click 'submit'

Do the same for Bing. Do this through Bing webmaster.

  1. Login
  2. click on 'configure my site'
  3. click on 'sitemaps'
  4. Paste in 'http://www.bath.ac.uk/management/sitemap.xml' and click 'submit' or tick the existing one and click 'resubmit'

Errors

Google will tell you of any warnings or errors with a sitemap. Errors can stop a sitemap being used by Google and will need addressing. Warnings are less serious and can normally be ignored. We currently receive warnings for embedding the same video on multiple pages. Ignore these.

 

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