Google Sitemaps and Email Marketing Scams

In the past few days, we have had emails from Acorn customers inquiring about “Google Sitemaps”, because they had received an unsolicited email from a company claiming that “as I was on (then listing the customer’s URL) I was unable to locate a “Google Sitemap file”.”  The email goes on to explain why a “Google Sitemap” is so crucial for any web-site, then provides a link to follow or a phone number to call.

I followed the link and found that this particular company would build a “Google Sitemap” and either provide the code to your web master to load or they will load “for free”. And this service will only cost you $250. And then, to sweeten the deal, they will throw in a “Yahoo Sitemap” at no cost!

So, what are they talking about and do you need this service?

What you need is called an XML Sitemap. This is basically a list of all your site’s URLS (pages) that is installed in your site’s root directory. It is then submitted to search engines through the individual search engines’ version of Webmaster Tools, so that the search engines will know about all of your pages. If you have had a site built by Acorn in the last few years, you most likely have a Sitemap installed in your site, but if you don’t, you can ask your webmaster to do it for you, or you can even do it yourself, at very little cost if done by a webmaster, or no cost if done by yourself.

First, to check and see if you have a sitemap, the easiest way is to type in your URL followed by “sitemap.xml”- like this: http://www.yoururl.com/sitemap.xml. Sometimes, however, the Sitemap file has a different name, so if you have access to your site’s root directory, check for an file with an xml file extersion that references “sitemap”. If this isn’t something you have access to, ask your webmaster, they can look and let you know.

Various XML sitemap builders are out there on the web, some are free and some cost. One that I like is called XML-Sitemaps.com and is free. You simply inout your sites full URL, and the site will generate not only an XML Sitemap, but also other forms of sitemaps. You will want to use the XML version for this purpose. You then install the file, or ask your webmaster to do it for you, in your root directory. You then go into your Google webmaster tools, Yahoo Site Explorer and Bing Webmaster Center and follow the instructions to verify your site and submit an XML sitemap. If you do not want to get into your site’s files yourself, ask your webmaster to do it for you. It shouldn’t cost anywhere near $250.

So, don’t give your money and your site’s access to a stranger, let your webmaster help you,or if you have the skills, do it yourself.

Annie Buck
Acorn Internet Services

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