Google Sitemaps is a free and easy-to-use tool that provides detailed information on how to make a website more "Google-friendly". Through the use of this tool, one can see first-hand how Google crawls and indexes the pages on a website and learn about specific problems Google is having with the site. This is my guide for setting up a Google Sitemap on a Yahoo! Store.
One of the reasons why I absolutely enjoy working with the Yahoo! Store platform as much as I do is because it seems to play well with others... well for the most part anyway. Today's Yahoo! Store and shopping cart can be integrated with so many different brands, tools, and online platforms to create an easy and seamless user-experience. Some of these include: PayPal, PaymentTech, UPS Online Tools, UPS World Ship, Yahoo! Search Marketing, Yahoo! SiteExplorer, and the basis for today's post Google's Webmaster Tools... aka Google Sitemaps.
Google Sitemaps is a free and easy-to-use tool that provides detailed information on how to make a website more "Google-friendly". Through the use of this tool, one can see first-hand how Google crawls and indexes the pages on a website and learn about specific problems Google is having with the site. One can also learn which queries are driving traffic, and see how search-users are arriving on a website. There is a lot of information that can be gained from setting up a Google Sitemap, and it's in a webmaster's or site owner's best interest to do so.
Having an understanding of this, the Yahoo! Store development team has done what they always do and made setting up a Google Sitemap with a Yahoo! Store less of a hassle. In what would normally be a multiple-step process of having to understand the Google Sitemap protocol in order to correctly build out an XML file with all of your store's URLs implemented, the Yahoo! Store platform can compliment a Google Sitemap in 3 easy steps (essentially, there are actually 12 steps, but only 3 real tasks that need to be completed).
How to Set Up a Google Sitemap on a Yahoo! Store
Here are those 12 steps for setting up a Google Sitemap with a Yahoo! Store:
First things first, open up two browser windows. One window should be logged into your Google Sitemaps account (if you don't have one, create one), and the other should be logged into the "Store Control Panel" of your Yahoo! Store account. Throughout this process, we'll be switching back and forth from one screen to the other so it's best to keep both readily available.
On the Google Sitemaps screen, add your website. To do so, enter your website's URL in the specified section at the top of the screen, and click "OK".
After clicking "OK" in the previous step, you'll be redirected to the "Summary" page. This page highlights some key information, such as the last time Google has crawled your website and a report on what your current index status is. If you're setting up a new website, don't worry about not seeing such information... all this means is that Google has not yet found/crawled your website.
For now, you're going to want to ignore this page and navigate back to the "Dashboard" page (via a breadcrumb link near the top of the page or by clicking on the "Google" logo on the top left of the page).
Now on the "Dashboard" page again, you should see that your website has been added. You should also see two other sections titled "Sitemap" and "Site Verified" and underneath them respectively you'll see two links titled "Add a Sitemap" and "Verify". Adding a Sitemap and verifying your website are the last two steps in this process. Let's start with verifying your website (Note: it doesn't matter which is done first, but we eliminate 2 steps by doing the verification first). Click "Verify"
Now on the "Verify Site Ownership" page, you'll need to start the verification process (but not finish it). To do so, click on the drop-down menu provided and select "Upload an HTML file". An option does exist to verify your website via a Meta-Tag option (which is what I'd suggest for most websites); however it is much easier for Yahoo! Store owners to do so via an HTML upload. Google will now generate and display a "Google Sitemap Verification File". Using your mouse, highlight the file name, and copy it (to copy hit "CTRL + C" on your keyboard). DO NOT CLICK VERIFY. Instead, leave this page exactly as it is.
Switch over to your Yahoo! Store window. You should already be logged in and within the "Store Control Panel". Click on the "Search Engines" link under the "Promote" section near the bottom-left-corner of your screen.
Now on the "Promote your Site on Search Engines" page, scroll down and locate the "Create a Sitemap for Your Store" section. Within this section there are two tasks which must be completed. First click on the "enabled" radio-button. This will create and activate an XML Sitemap that is already formatted to work with Google's Sitemap protocol. After you've done that, click inside the designated box and paste the "Google Sitemap Verification File" that you had copied in step 5 (to paste hit "CTRL + V" on your keyboard). When doing so, make sure there are no extra spaces before or after the file.
We're going to go ahead and do some forward planning. While we're in this screen, it is best to copy the URL for your soon to be sitemap. In the same area, you should see something like: "View: http://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml". Highlight this link with your mouse and copy it (to copy hit "CTRL + C" on your keyboard).
When finished, click "Done".
Enter your Yahoo! Store editor and publish / republish your website. Doing so will automatically create an XML sitemap and the required Google Sitemap Verification File, and host them on your website. (Note: It's very important that you publish your Yahoo! Store now. If your Yahoo! Store states that it is already "published", you'll need to force it to publish by updating something on your website and then clicking the "publish" button.)
Return to your Google Sitemaps window where you should still be on the "Verify Site Ownership" page. Click the "Verify" tab to complete the website verification process. If all was done properly, you should be taken back to the "Dashboard" page where you'll now see a green check mark under the "Site Verified" column.
Now it's time to add your sitemap. Click the "Add a Sitemap" link under the "Sitemap" column to start this process.
Now on the "Add a Sitemap" page, add a Sitemap. To do so, click on the drop-down menu and select "Add General Web Sitemap". An option does exist to add a sitemap for a mobile website (such as those used for cell phones and PDAs); however most of you will want to select the general web sitemap option. Google will now ask for the URL to your website's sitemap. Click inside the designated box and paste the Sitemap URL that you had copied in step 7 (to paste hit "CTRL + V" on your keyboard). Click the "Add Web Sitemap" tab to finish adding a sitemap.
If all was done properly, you should be taken back to the "Dashboard" page where you'll now see a number 1 under the "Sitemap" column.
Congratulations! Google Sitemaps is now set-up. Give it a day or so to retrieve some data on your website, and then you'll have all the information you need to understand how the Google search engine finds, crawls, reads, and indexes the pages on your website.