A site map is a file you can make for web crawlers like Googlebot which gives them a list of web pages on your site. This file lets Google and other search engines learn the organization of your site content to more intelligently crawl your site. The standard way to build a site map is to make an XML file. To learn more about site maps, see this article on Wikipedia.
Creating a site map for your Help Center is not necessary. Even if you don’t create one, your Help Center will still be indexed by search engines.
Note: Automatic XML sitemaps are available on Guide Professional. If you are on Guide Lite, you can manually create a site map for your Help Center and submit it to Google, as described in this article.
Step 1: Creating a site map
Creating a site map is easier than you might imagine. You can do it in a couple minutes with the help of a site map generator. I’ve been using xml-sitemaps.com, but you can find a list with more options here. The site map generator will crawl and index the pages on your website.
To create your site map, enter the URL of your Help Center in your site map generator and press Start. When your site map is generated, download your shiny new xml site map.
Step 2: Saving your site map in Help Center
Now that you have created the site map xml file, you need to save it in your Help Center where it can be used by Google and other search engines.
- Create a new public article in your Help Center.
- Click Add File to attach the site map file to the article, and then publish it. You might want to move the article to an area in your Help Center where users are unlikely to see it, such as the last article in a low-traffic section.
- Right-click your attached site map file and open it in a new window. You’ll need the exact attachment location URL to submit to Google.
- Copy and save the attachment URL.
Step 3: Submitting your site map to Google Webmaster Tools
To submit site maps to Google, you must first do a one-time verification of your website so that Google knows you're the rightful owner. See these instructions on the Google website. An easy way to do it is the HTML tag option. You'll be given a meta tag. Paste the tag into the Document Head template of your Help Center, publish it, and then click Verify in Google.
To upload your site map
- On your Webmaster Tools home page, select your site.
- In the left sidebar, click Crawl > Sitemaps.
- Click the Add/Test Sitemap button in the top right.
- Complete the link to your site map attachment in the text box that appears.
- Click Submit Sitemap.
Your link should look something like this: https://support.yourdomain.com/hc/en-us/article_attachments/900802345/sitemap.xml
Voila! You’re done.
Step 4: Schedule weekly site map updates
You should plan to create a new site map every week or when you publish new content in your Help Center. If you don’t regularly update your site map, Google and other search indexes will become outdated.
Creating and submitting your first site map might take a bit of time, but once you’ve got it down, it should only take you a few minutes each week.