Sitemaps come in two different types and I always think that you should create both types when optimising your website. The first is a HTML sitemap and these are mainly useful for users of your website as it give them a quick and easy place to find links to all the content on your site, they are also used by some search engines to help with indexing. The second is an xml site map and this is a file containing a full list of all your pages which is stored on your server. This file can then be read by the search engine so they know if they have crawled all of your pages. You can upload this file to Google directly within Google Webmaster tools (See below).
How to Add and Submit a Sitemap
If you have chosen WordPress to build your website in then this is very simple to do. Firstly install and activate the following two plug-ins, http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-sitemap-plugin/ and https://wordpress.org/plugins/simple-sitemap/developers/ to your wordpress control panel. There are plenty of other plug-ins available to choose from but I find these two the easiest to use.
Next create a new website page and name it Sitemap so we can add a HTML sitemap, then add the following line into the content part of the page, “simple-sitemap” in brackets[ ], this will then automatically create and update your sitemap page for you.
The other plug-in that you have installed will create and manage your xml site map for you, just go to the plug-in setting and you have a couple of options boxes to tick depending on whether you what to include all posts, pages and contact forms. I normally tick pages and post but not contact forms. There are two other boxes which I normally tick to create the new file and add to the robot.txt file. There is a further option to allow the plug-in to automatically add the file to Google webmaster tools but I am a bit over protective about GWT so I do this manually.
Now you have setup the sitemaps you can login onto GWT (See our page on setting up Webmaster tools) and add the xml file name www.yourwebsite/sitemap.xml to the site map section on the right. I would also recommend adding a link from your foot menu to the site map page you created as well.
Sitemap for HTML sites
If you are not using WordPress but instead are using a static HTML website then you will need to create a new webpage with a list of all the page and links to them, as with WordPress you will need to add a link to your site map from the footer of each page.
XML site map of static HTML Websites
There are many tools available to do this for you but I prefer to use http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ just enter your domain name and then down load the file which you can up load to GWT and to your website via FTP.