As much as possible I try to review free extensions here, but JSitemap appears to be very very popular, and it was even listed as nr. 1 in the Top Rated listing on the JED. Reason enough to grab a copy and review it for sitemap generation, like OS-Map. So, it is a commercial extension, available in 2 versions: Standard for $35 and Professional for $45. Standard is probably fine for many users, but for slightly more the Professional version offers some additional features, like Google News, Images and Mobile and some other features. Since version 3.3 it is now also possible to generate Video sitemaps, for any kind of video, including embedded ones from Youtube, Vimeo, etc.
For this review I tried out the Professional version. Installing it immediately results in sitemap creation (HTML and XML in 4 flavours: plain, Mobile, Images and Google News and even Video). The dashboard shows you a dashboard with SEO statistics, plus the main options. Especially note two recently added options. These options add a lot of value! This almost makes the extension a full SEO extension:
Most of these buttons speak for themselves I guess, so I won't go into detail, like the options to view raw and formatted sitemaps, and the options to edit your robots.txt and .htaccess file (very convenient though). Also you can verify your sitemap directly here, which launches an instant verification of all links in the map, and which shows you if all links are accessible (you can filter by HTTP-response code, where especially 404 should not occurr of course).
Under the configuration options, the raw links to all sitemap-versions are shown, including a button to add the sitemap locations to your robots.txt file (You can also edit the robots.txt file straight in your control panel). Also for every sitemap links are offered to alert search engines of updated sitemaps:
What is nice with this option is that you do not have to access your Webmaster Tools account anymore to notify Google (or Bing / Yandex), just refresh from Joomla (initial webmaster set-up is still advised with correct sitemap location though).
The Configuration button opens possibilities to set many global parameters, like how your sitemaps are displayed, caching, lifetime, splitting of large sitemaps, ordering, etc. Especially with large sites, Image and Video sitemap generation takes resources, so it pays to finetune the caching methods here to make sure all links are included. Also you can set up how you want your HTML map to look like. Especially the collapsed view seems nice for large sitemaps:
By default JSitemap creates a sitemap based on your Joomla menu and content structure, but you can also add other data resources. You can easily add these using a wizard for many used extensions like K2, shops like Virtuemart, Hikashop, Kunena, MosetsTree, etc:
If no wizard exists you can still create custom datasources. You can further configure each data source individually. For example you can omit categories or individual articles from your sitemap, but also more complex configuration is possible.
Search Engines metainfo
A new feature that was introduced with version 3.2 is the metadata manager. This is actually a big improvement, and not something you would immediately expect to find in a sitemap extension. It upgrades it to a full SEO extension! With the new dashboard, you can easily manage all your metadata in one place. No need to maintain this in the separate Joomla articles anymore. Also you can now set the page titles to whatever you want, which is a bit cumbersome to arrange in Joomla:
As you can see, you have some nice counters that help you establishing how close you are to the maximum length for the page title and metadescription. Keep in mind that any metadata entered in Joomla is not reflected here: if both are filled in, Jsitemap wins.
Google indexing tester
This is a new feature, introduced in version 3.3, and it's something I haven't seen in a Joomla extension: It allows you to see how your site performs in Google! In the default view it simply shows you the URL's for your site and how they look in the Google SERP pages. Even more interesting are the fields above, where you can see how well your site performs for a given keyword, and even it can even do it country / language specific:
Extremely usefull if you want to track your rankings! Secondly, if the first result in the list has sitelinks (additional links for the same result), these are shown as separate results. Apart from that the feature works excellent, really smart work!
Integration with Google Webmaster Tools / Search Console
In version 3.4.1, released in June 2015 a new feature was introduced again: a full integration with Google Webmaster Tools, or Search Console as it is called nowadays. Jsitemap already had an option to ping search engines about new sitemaps, but now a full integration with Google was created. In the main dashboad you will now see a button called Google Webmaster Tools. If you access it, you are first asked to connect to Google. This is ver easy, just a click on a button. You then get a code from Google that you need to enter in Jsitemap and the integration is ready. You then see shortcuts to many of the features available, directly within your own site:
You now have direct access to the following items:
- Sitemaps stats
- Crawl errors count
- Not found errors
- Server errors
- Soft 404
- Access denied
The most interesting is of course under the Sitemap stats. This displays all metrics directly pulled from Google about indexing status, submission date, last date fetched by Google, errors and warnings, etcetera:
Most interesting of course is the option to re-submit your sitemaps, while you can also directly submit new sitemaps from here. An excellent addition!
And the rest
Next to above mentioned features, there is a lot more to discover:
- Jsitemap supports multilingual sites, with separate sitemaps per language
- Ping_o_matic links option allows you to aytomatically target RSS services like Feedburner, Google Blog Search, etc, which could be a nice addition for sites with often-changing content.
- Google Analytics integration to monitor easily your Google Anaytics account from the
- SEO stats dashboard with Alexa Rank, Pagerank, number of indexed links, and even site-speed
For 3rd-party developers: public API
In version 3.3 a public API and SDK has been added to allow third party developers to integrate external applications with the Joomla sitemap. For example Magento ecommerce now can be integrated in the sitemap through MageBridge and the JSitemap plugin.
So, to conclude: JSitemap seems like a very nice sitemap generation plugin that offers good (and often unique) service and is good value for your money.