Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Using ‪sitemaps‬ video intro

Check out this helpful video introduction to using ‪sitemaps‬ to help ‪google‬ find content hosted on your ‪website‬. 

Of course it isn't only google that will benefit. Many search engines use sitemaps to inform their search listings so sitemaps are an important part of your SEO (Search Engine Optimisation Strategy).



What next? 


Monday, 8 August 2016

Wordpress Plugin 1.3.0 Beta

We have made the latest version of our WordPress XML Sitemap Generator plugin available to download in Beta form.

By popular request version 1.3.0 adds two new features:
  • Support for custom post types and taxonomy
  • The ability to add custom entries to your robots.txt file.



You can download the beta directly from the WordPress plugin directly below :

 Please contact us with your feedback, good or bad!

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Ready for WordPress 4.6?

WordPress 4.6 is now at release candidation (RC) and is due for release on Tuesday, 16th August.

We're pleased to say that we have now completed testing our WordPress Sitemap Generator Plugin and all looks to be good. We have now updated our plugin to say that it is compatible with 4.6.

The good news is that you don't have to do anything as there are no updates required, so you can continue to enjoy our sitemap generator plugin hassle free.

If however you do spot a problem please do feel free to get in touch.
 

Saturday, 30 July 2016

What are people saying?

We love to hear your feedback whether comments, questions or problems, it's what helps us keep moving forward. Here are some of our recent favourites :

  • Google likes my new sitemap, thanks
  • excellent resource! super easy to use, super face[sic] results.
  • great service, and the generator just works. in fact, it works better than some of the paid products out there.   sending donation soon!
  • Thank you for a wonderful service
  • Generated sitemap quick and free. Recommend to all Webmasters.
  • Great tool!!! It makes my life much easier for updating my sitemap
  • one of the best sitemap makers.
  • Quick, no error messages. Very reliable sitemaker tool
  • Excellent and accuracy is high.
  • Awesome Tool! Really works well for most websites.
  • Quick and easy, much appreciated.
  • Convenient, fast, plenty of format to choose from. One of the best sitemap generators online.
  • Kudos ! Lovely site to generate quick website sitemap.

Thanks for all your contributions, shares, likes, tweets, donations and comments they all help to keep the service up and running.

Try our sitemap generator for yourself.

Please help support us and contribute by sharing or donating.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Troubleshooting your Wordpress sitemap plugin

In this article we'll give you a few tips and tricks to help you with problems that some users face when trying to get up and running with our WordPress Sitemap Generator Plugin.

Please note that changing your WordPress settings can have undesirable consequences and can impact on your SEO or even take your site offline. Ensure you back up regularly and if in doubt ask an expert.

Wordpress / Plugin versions


Make sure you have the latest version of our Wordpress plugin and Wordpress itself is up to date. This will ensure any known issues are addressed and is important to ensure you have the latest and most secure version. We also don't tend to test / support older version of Wordpress.

Permalinks


Our sitemap generator doesn't work when you have permalinks set to "Plain". To check your permalinks select settings from the main menu and then permalinks.

Wordpress Permalink settings

User interface / settings issues


Other plugins can sometimes interfere with our code. This can manifest as user interface and functional problems. We've tried to prevent this but haven't ruled it out 100%.

You can try to debug this by temporally deactivating plugins to determine which is causing the problem. If you don't need the plugin leave it deactivated and get in touch with details so we can try to fix the issue.

Invalid XML format


As with user interface problems invalid XML can be caused by other plugins injecting content in to our sitemap. This can cause problems which may manifest as invalid XML.

Again you can narrow this down  by temporally deactivating plugins to determine which is causing the problem. Please get in touch with details so we can try to fix the issue.

Another problem can be if debugging is enabled and debug information is being written in to your sitemap. Switching off debugging usually resolves this. If the debug information is a result of our plugin please let us know the details so we can investigate.

Custom posts


At present our plugin does not support custom post types or any other customised content. This is something we are looking in to. If the missing page is a custom type it will not show in your sitemap.

Caching


Sometimes the problem  can be something simple like your browser cached the sitemap file (/xmlsitemap.xml). You can try forcing a refresh using CTRL+F5 or opening it in a private / incognito browser window.

If you use a caching plugin these too can prevent your sitemap updating immediately. You can test this by temporarily deactivating your caching plugin. In normal circumstances you may need to just wait for your cache to expire or manually reset/flush the cache.

Remember that if you do use caching you'll need to force a refresh after any further changes. 


Global settings


The default global settings should enable you to produce a sitemap with all your content. If you have changed these check you are not excluding any areas of your website that you expect to be included.


Wordpress sitemap global settings


Pages settings


Your pages / posts must be published and publicly available i.e. not a draft and no password protection.

It sounds obvious, but also make sure you are looking for the correct post url.

Check the XML Sitemap panel to ensure that the pages/post is not set to exclude.

WordPress Post settings


Category / tag settings


If that doesn't resolve your issue check what categories / tags  are assigned to your post and make sure that the category / tag settings are not set to exclude.


WordPress Tag sitemap settings


Still got a problem?


If you changed any settings it might be worth trying to force a refresh again using CTRL+F5.

If you still have a problem please get in touch providing as much detail as possible about your setup and steps to replicate the problem and we'll try to help if we can.


Monday, 30 May 2016

Website diagnostic tool

We sometimes get contacted by people with questions about why their sitemap wasn't generated as expected , indeed in some cases returning very few or no pages.

In most cases the answers are to do with the structure or format of their website and how it responds to our spider.

To help users understand and address these problems we've started to automate some standard checks we should normally do manually to help resolve these issues.

The diagnostic tool runs through a series of tests designed to mimic the behaviour of our spider.

We test things like
  • Accessing your server
  • The server response codes
  • Parsing of the HTML content
  • Important tags such as
    • titles and headers
    • canonical urls and
    • http refresh
  • Number of urls found
The tool will return a list of results which can be helpful when trying to understand how our sitemap generator interprets your websites.

Exampe diagnostics output

 You can access the diagnostic tool when you download your sitemap and from the help section.

In this release we also fixed a couple of bugs.
  • Fix: processing of http equivelent refresh meta tag.
  • Fix : noindex / nofollow rules to ensure pages that we're not indexed we're still followed where there wasn't a nofollow value.

Monday, 16 May 2016

Sitemap Infrastructure Upgrade

On  the 16th April our hosting provider 123-reg made a catastrophic blunder deleting 100's of customer virtual servers. They have since been unable to recover the servers and many reported permanent loss of data. You can read more about the outage and how it unfolded on our previous blog and on the BBC news website.

Having been through a rocky period we are pleased to say that we are now coming out the other side of the disaster having relocated our services to Microsoft Azure.

Our previous setup


Our previous setup with 123-reg gave us limited options in terms of resilience and scalability. We essentially hosted the service on a number of manually managed Virtual Private servers using rudimentary backup provision provided by 123-reg.

A simplified view of our 123reg hosting setup

Our  setup with 123reg setup was in a single UK data centre with basic hosting facilities, giving rise to a number of challenges including:

  • Difficult abstract and manage key services
  • No guaranteed fault domains
  • Problematic load balancing
  • Very limited backup options
  • Labour intensive manual scale
  • Lack of performance and security management

Our Microsoft Azure setup


Our new Azure setup has allowed us to easily abstract the various components and services and host them in much more resilient environments, with automatic redundancy/failover and much more opportunity to scale.

Azure allows us to host services around the globe at the click of a button. In the first instance we have provisioned our primary services in the Western Europe Azure region which provides a good central operating base.


An overview of our Azure setup

We now have a dedicated load balancer fronting the service allowing us to better manage traffic across a number of server nodes and deal with maintenance and updates much more transparently.

The servers themselves sit in separate fault domains meaning they do not depend on the same infrastructure should a fault occur.

We're also able to take server snapshots and scale out servers up and out should we need to meet peaks and troughs in demand. This can even be done automatically in real time!

Azure has enabled us to easily abstracted our file and database services to dedicated managed backends with inherent resilience, fault domains and automated backups.

Azure also affords us an awesome set of tools including application insights, performance and security monitoring enabling us to proactively manage the server.

What's next


As the service beds in we hope to tune and optimise the service further so there may be a few further bumps along the way, but ultimately we hope to provide a more stable platform.

With Azure being a flexible global platform our ability to scale and deliver compute power where it is needed to reduce network latency becomes a real possibility. We hope to be able to improve and expand the service further in the future as budget and resources permit.

We appreciate all the support and offers of help we received during this problematic period and would encourage you if possible to please contribute and help use keep sitemaps free.