Google Site Map (beta)

I’ve recently been playing with Google Site Maps, it’s a fairly simple mechanism to "help" Google understand your site. At it’s core is an XML file that allows you to include all the pages you wish to have indexed with Google, although it still doesn’t guarantee that they will be indexed. It also allows you to specify how frequently the page will change and you can provide a page priority, presumably to help order your pages in a search result.
One of the first things I wanted to do was produce a map for a friend’s site Web Site Design site. But rather than produce it by hand I had a look at the utilities/code out there to produce the map automatically. The majority of the utilities need to be run on the site hosting the web pages. That certainly has many advantages however it also has a few drawbacks;
  1. An auto-generated site map will show pages I don’t want to be indexed
  2. I only have FTP access to the site and I don’t have an execute style rights to the site
  3. I tend to work on a local site and the publish all the changes to the live site in one go, this should include the site map
  4. I’ve got "sub sites" that are not linked from my default page that I wish to include in the index – not easy for web crawlers to detect.

With these problems in mind I’ve set about writing a little Windows utility that you can point to your local site and generate an editable site map (see GoogleSiteMap picture). I’ve got a little bit of tidying up to do, but if anyone wants a copy then please post and I’ll see if it I can post the installer somewhere. It seems to work well and includes a "validate" button, so if you do make some changes to the XML you can test to ensure that you’ve not broken the schema.


Search Engine Optimizations

I was "lucky" enough this weekend to attend a local seminar small businesses. One of the lectures was on Search Engine Optimisations (SEO). The audiance was a mixture of people who just about knew what a keyboard was ranging to people writing classic ASP code. As you can imagine the range of questions was equally varied. However, the lectured dealt with matters pretty well and although he did give a few ideas about how to, "drive traffic to your site" overall I’d have to agree with Hannah Watkins from Clear Breeze Design when she talks about "How can I get to the top of the search engine rankings". You can attempt to discover all the tricks you want, but ultimatley the only sure way to get a good ranking is to have relevant content.