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Creating Zendesk Sitemaps

Overview

Currently, Zendesk does not create a Sitemap of the content in your Help Center.  Creating and submitting a Sitemap file to Google and Bing is an important step in your SEO initiatives.  Zendesk's goal is to create a Sitemap file by the end of 2014, but for many of us who want to rank better in search, this is simply too long.  This article shows you how you can manually create and register a Sitemap file with both Google and Bing.

Manually Creating Sitemaps

Zendesk does not currently create a Sitemap for you, which means you'll need to create one manually. Don't worry, this is a lot easier than you might think and can be created in a couple of minutes when using SEO software.  I'm sure there are plenty of great SEO tools on the market to help you create Sitemaps along with a variety of other useful features, but for the purposes of this explanation, I'm going to use ScreamingFrog.  For a quick overview of the features of ScreamingFrog please watch this video, it's amazing:

To create a Sitemap of your Zendesk Help Pages, you must first let ScreamingFrog catalog the pages in your website.  To do this simply enter the URL of your Zendesk website and hit Start.

After ScreamingFrog is done doing it's thing, you can create the actual Sitemap file, which believe it or not, is a simple menu option.

This will create an XML Sitemap file that you'll need to save somewhere on your computer.  Please note the location because you'll need it shortly.

Saving Sitemap File in Zendesk Help Center

After you've created the Sitemap file, you'll need to save this file in your Help Center so it can be used by Google and Bing.  You don't have direct access to the files in Zendesk, so you'll need to create an article, upload the Sitemap and then save it to this article.

 

After you've saved the article, you will have a page in Zendesk like the following.

Zendesk will upload the Sitemap you uploaded, but the trick is you'll need to know exactly where it is located in order to be able to submit it to Google and Bing.  However, this is pretty easy to figure out.  You can either hover over the sitemap file name as shown above and then look at the bottom of the browser for the full path; or you can right-click on your sitemap file and tell it to open the file up in a new window, which is super helpful because you then just copy the link.

Whatever method you use, please save the complete URL to your sitemap file stored in this Zendesk article because you'll need it to submit it with Google and Bing.

Google & Bing Webmaster Tools Registration

Registering your website with Google and Bing's Webmaster Tools is a little beyond the scope of this article.  However, here are a few thoughts to help you or your IT folks with your registration.

In order to submit Sitemaps to Google and Bing, you must first register your website with them so they know you're the rightful owner.  This gets a little tricky because unlike the website for your business, you do not have direct access to the site or files in Zendesk.  This is a little problematic because these registrations often require you to drop a file on the website or place a little piece of code on your homepage to prove you're the site owner.  Luckily, there's an alternate method, but it may need to involve your IT group.  The method we used was the "CNAME Method" where we created a record in DNS to prove we controlled the Zendesk website, support.modernretail.com. 

Sorry, I know this is pretty technical, so please ask your favorite IT person for help if necessary.

Google & Bing Sitemaps

You are now ready to submit the Sitemap you created to Google and Bing.  You'll need the file you uploaded to your Zendesk help article above.  Mine is stored at:

This address can be cut and pasted right into Google and Bing when you create a new sitemap.

That's it!  Google will do its thing and will use this sitemap for your Zendesk Help Center articles and pages.

Weekly Sitemap File Updates

Modern Retail plans on creating a new Sitemap file every week and will use it to overwrite the file being stored in the Zendesk article created above.  Yes, this involves a manual process of creating a file in ScreamingFrog and uploading the Sitemap file it creates in Zendesk, but after you get this process down, it shouldn't take you more than a few minutes.

Please be aware if you don't update this file yourself, say weekly, then both Google and Bing will be perpetually out-of-date.  You must create a new Sitemap file and upload it to your Zendesk article in order to update Google and Bing.

Need Help?

If you need additional help or have thoughts on how to improve this process, please go ahead and enter a comment on the following Zendesk article:

I will do what I can to reply in a timely manner to help you or incorporate your ideas and thoughts into this article.  Thank you.

Enjoy,

Todd Myers
Modern Retail

 

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