Search engines and sitemaps
Many search engines including Google, Yahoo! and Bing have agreed on a common format that Web sites can use to submit an index of the pages that they should include in their index of those Web sites. To learn more about sitemaps and the XML sitemap protocol, please visit sitemaps.org
Each search engine has specific information and requirements about sitemaps.
- More information about Google Sitemaps, visit the Google Webmaster Help Center
- Bing has a set of Webmaster Tools through which you can submit a sitemap
Creating a Sitemap for your E-commerce Store
ProductCart can automatically generate a sitemap for your e-commerce store, consistently with the sitemaps.org protocol, and then help you notify search engines of its existence. The site map will include a properly formatted list of categories, their subcategories, and the products that they contain, plus any other page that you wish to add to the list.
- Sitemap File
ProductCart will generate a properly formatted XML file, called SiteMap.xml
- File Location
The XML file generated by ProductCart will be saved to the “productcart” folder (which you have likely renamed). Make sure that it has “WRITE” permissions.
- Non-ProductCart URLs
If you are adding to the file URLs that are outside of the “productcart” folder using the “Add additional URLs” feature below (e.g. http://www.myStore.com/about.html), you must move the XML file to the ROOT of your Web site and then manually submit the Sitemap. Otherwise the search engines will ignore any URL outside of the “productcart” folder
- Web server
Remember that you must run this feature on a Web server, not on your local workstation (otherwise the search engines will not be able to find your site map file).
To access this feature, select Settings > Images & Navigation > Generate Sitemaps.
The sitemap will include a properly formatted list of categories, their subcategories, and the products that they contain, plus any other page that you wish to add to the list.
To create a Sitemap of your store, do the following.
Select categories that should be excluded. To improve performance, you can limit the amount of categories included in the map. To select the categories that you would like to exclude from the map generation process, click on any of the categories shown in the Exclude These Categories field. Keep the CTRL key on your keyboard pressed to select multiple categories.
- Exclude wholesale categories
Check this checkbox to exclude categories that are only visible to wholesale customers (and therefore hidden to the casual visitor to your e-commerce store).
- Exclude 'not for sale' products
Check this checkbox to exclude products that are not currently available for purchase. Note that inactive products are always excluded.
- URL Change Frequency
Google asks you that you provide an estimate of how frequently your pages change. Note that Google will consider this as a hint and not a command to visit the URLs with the frequency that you suggest.
- Include Content Pages
Check this option to include your content pages in the sitemap
- Add Additional URLs
This feature allows you to create a complete sitemap that includes pages that you have created and added to your ProductCart store, or other pages that are part of your Web site (e.g. static pages that are not part of your store). Carefully review the note about Non-ProductCart URLs mentioned earlier in this section. So that you don't have to re-enter the list of URLs every time you create a sitemap, ProductCart saves the list to a file called UrlList.txt in the pcadmin/importlogs folder.
If your catalog contains a large number of products (over 10,000), ProductCart will create multiple sitemaps and point to them via a sitemap index file called SiteMapIndex.xml. For example, if you had 24,000 products, ProductCart will:
- Create a sitemap index file
- Create a first sitemap with 10,000 URLs
- Create a second sitemap with 10,0000 URLs
- Create a third sitemap with 4,000 URLs
If you need to, you can change the 10,000 URL figure (e.g. you are just above 10,000 URLs and do not want to create an sitemap index). To edit that value, locate the following code in genGoogleSitemapA.asp:
Keep in mind that there is a 50,000 URL limit per sitemap file.
More information on the sitemap index:
How to Notify the Search Engines
Once the sitemap has been generated, you can click on a link to view the raw XML generated by ProductCart. In order to submit the newly updated Sitemap to search engines, do the following:
You can manually notify Google by adding the sitemap to your account via the Google Webmaster Tools. Or you can automatically notify Google by pressing the Notify Google button. Carefully review the note about Non-ProductCart URLs mentioned earlier in this section before using the Notify Google feature.
- Microsoft Bing
Use Bing Webmaster Tools to submit your Web site, verify it, and submit a sitemap
- Log in to Bing Webmaster
- Add your Web site, if you have not already done so
- Verify it
- Click on “Crawl” in the top navigation and then “Sitemaps” in the left-side navigation.
- Click on “Add Sitemap” to add the new sitemap.
What Happens Next?
You can use something like the Google Webmaster Tools to find out if the sitemap(s) that you have submitted are correctly being processed (no errors and no warnings). Even if a sitemap is processed with no errors, this does not mean that all of the URLs that the sitemap includes will be indexed. In fact, they may not (especially if the sitemap contains a large number of URLs). Submitting a sitemap is not a guarantee for indexing of those URLs. For more information on Google and sitemaps, see Google's Webmaster Central Help Forum.