Are you still manually building your HTML or XML sitemaps? Has your site outgrown those free online sitemap builders? There’s a new extension called Surveyor for Adobe Dreamweaver 8 and CS3 that builds your sitemaps automatically from within a simple configuration wizard.
Sitemaps and SEO are like peanut butter and jelly
If you’ve read anything on SEO and website optimization, you know that an XML sitemap combined with a HTML sitemap gives search engines the breadcrumbs they need to find the pages in your site. One of the coolest features of Surveyor is it’s ability to not only build an XML sitemap, but it will also submit it to Google, Yahoo, Live Search, Ask and Moreover.
If you’re like me, you don’t always remember to submit updated sitemaps to the search engines. WebAssist Surveyor gives you a submission reminder manager where you can actually put in scheduled reminders to submit your sitemaps.
Creating a sitemap in Dreamweaver
To create your sitemap, WebAssist Surveyor gives you the following options to customize the crawl of your site:
- Choose a locally-defined Dreamweaver site or a website URL
- Select the location you wish to save your sitemap
- Page file types to index such as HTML, HTM, PHP, ASP, etc.
- How deep you want Surveyor to crawl – current page only, up to five levels deep or the entire site
- Maximum number of pages to index in the sitemap
- Whether or not you want Surveyor to follow dynamic links
- Which URL parameters you want Surveyor to ignore such as login pages
- And whether you want to edit the sitemap when it is complete
Once your options are set, Surveyor goes to work and builds the sitemap of your choice, either HTML for displaying to your site visitors, or XML for submission to search engines. When the crawl process is complete, if you chose to edit the sitemap when done, you can then manually edit the list and delete any pages you wish to remove, add additional pages and change the XML priority and update frequency for any page.
If you’re creating an HTML sitemap to place on your website, Surveyor gives you 7 preset layouts and 11 color schemes to work with, and each is fully customizable through the CSS styles. Once you’ve created a sitemap, you can jump back into Surveyor and add individual pages, entire site branches or edit any aspect of your sitemap.
Our test of WebAssist Surveyor
We put Surveyor to the test prior to the extension release and were impressed with the thoroughness of the site crawl. We found pages that we forgot we uploaded, and even found where we kept getting a 404 error for a typo on one of our page names. Must not have had enough coffee that day.
The crawl time for our approximately 850 page site was just under four minutes, but that is entirely dependent on your connection speed and server performance. Once Surveyor completed the XML sitemap, I easily edited out the nonsense pages like our privacy notice (hehe) and changed the update and priority for our most dynamic pages. I clicked OK, uploaded our sitemap to the server (Surveyor can do that for you as well), submitted the new sitemap to all the included search engines and were done in less than 10 minutes. Since we generally only submit our sitemaps to Google through the webmaster tools, I’ll be curious to see if our analytics record any higher organic traffic from the other search engines Surveyor submitted to. I’ll keep this post updated if I notice any blips on the radar.
30 day update:
It’s been about a month since I used Surveyor on two other sites I run. They’ve been real low traffic sites but have a lot of pages. One has over 14,000 and one has over 9,000. The image below shows my analytics traffic since just before submitting the sitemap to the smaller of the two sites. It’s obvious that traffic has increased dramatically. Whether or not the sitemap creation is the reason for the increased traffic is difficult to say, but I wouldn’t bet against it.
Here’s my analytics stats for the other larger site. It has been live for several more months than the smaller site and also has significantly more inbound links to it due to an active link building campaign I performed after launching the site. Again, there’s a noticible increase in traffic in the last few weeks, and you can tell my niche doesn’t fare well on weekends.. ha!
Do the search engines a favor and try WebAssist Surveyor
If your website has grown to the point where managing the HTML or XML sitemap is time-consuming and frankly, a pain in the rear, give WebAssist Surveyor a look. The ability to generate your sitemap in Dreamweaver is a big time-saver, and the added tools of search engine submission and submission reminders give it even more utility.