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An Introduction to Automating XML Sitemaps for NetSuite Companies

XML Sitemap Automation

Introduction & Benefits

What is a XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a computer and human readable file that website owners can choose to place on their site to improve the indexing of their pages. Before any page on your site can rank for organic traffic, it must first be indexed by the search engine. Normally, a search engine spider will go to your homepage, and follow links on each page it visits to index as many pages as it can on your website, according to your link authority (a measure of the number & quality of links pointing to your site). The more link authority your site has, the more resources a search engine is willing to invest in indexing your pages.
Search engines support reading a XML site map to add to its list of pages to index. In addition, we can provide other important details to the search engine spider, like how often a page is updated, when it was last updated, and details about any images we want indexed as well. Providing a complete and properly formatted XML site map is considered a basic requirement by many SEOs, and will go a long way towards getting the vast majority of your pages indexed.

Details on NetSuite’s Built-In Sitemap Generator

NetSuite does have a built-in sitemap generator. The same functionality is used for Site Builder and SuiteCommerce advanced, and it is somewhat basic and limited, and I can’t remember it ever being updated.
Pros:

  • It’s free
  • Includes your site categories and items (only items in SCA, not categories)
  • Generates a compliant XML sitemap.
  • Will leave out items if they are set to exclude from site map.
  • Will include the priority set on items and categories.

Cons:

  • Does not use the latest features supported by Google and others:
    • Cannot include any images, so many of your images may not get indexed
    • Does not include captions or titles, reducing SEO benefit
    • Doesn’t support setting priority automatically, only manually
  • Has to be run manually, cannot be scheduled
  • There is no easy way to customize the data it uses, other than change frequency (which has to use the same setting for all pages)
  • Does not use a master & child file structure, so your site map can’t contain more than 50k pages

A Better Solution – Our Custom XML Sitemap

Our automated script will run once a day and create a set of XML files in your file cabinet that can be retrieved by Google or other search engines. Here are some of the benefits over the current NS version:

  • Each item or category can have a caption and title included, which helps to tell the search engines what the page is about
  • Each item or category can also include an image URL & title, which should help you get more traffic from image search
  • Customizable priority rules, so Google indexes your most important pages more frequently
  • Multiple images can be submitted for each item
  • The script will automatically create a master site map index file along with multiple children, to work within the limits set by Google and the NetSuite file cabinet. This allows the site map to support hundreds of thousands of URLs if necessary.

There are some site map building tools that try to index your site like a search engine, and build a site map that way. I believe our solution is superior to that approach, because it is inside out rather than outside in, so there are some benefits to that:

  • It will create multiple site maps that are organized in a human friendly hierarchy – a single master XML file that points to the other site map files, with one dedicated to categories and another to items.
  • We can include images that are associated with a category or item URL, and we can select fields to pull from the item record for the title and caption. This will ensure that you are putting out the best data to help get the images indexed and generate more traffic through image search functions.
  • We can choose the priority to assign for categories and items based on rules (e.g. home is 100%, top level categories are 90%, items are 70%, etc). Priority is not a critical part of the site map, but it can indicate to search engines which pages we think are most important.
  • We can exclude pages and URLs easily with my solution, and it should be more difficult or time-consuming to do that with the external generator.
  • The sitemap can include accurate last modified dates from the actual item record (NetSuite does not track last modified data for categories in Site Builder).
  • Our solution is fully automated, I doubt there are any external generators that can automatically upload a new site map file to your file cabinet on a daily basis.

Contact Us to Learn More

Each site map project is unique, and we will build a custom solution for your unique situation. Get in touch with us and let’s talk about the best solution for your needs.

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I have been working with computers and web sites for 20+ years, and have enjoyed mastering many areas of technology. I have been building websites for about 15 years, and working with NetSuite for more than 10. I have worked with dozens of small and medium-sized companies in that time, helping them to understand and leverage the latest tools to grow their business. My business is all about helping you to maximize your business, and I prefer to establish long-term relationships with clients who are dedicated to embracing smart ways to optimize and expand their business.

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