There’s been a lot of discussion lately on various forums about Google Sitemaps and whether or not they should actually be submitted.
If you don’t know – Google provides a service called “Google Webmaster Tools” (http://www.google.com/webmasters/) to help website owners with indexing and SERPs. Various graphs and diagnostic tools are provided to allow you to see what Google see’s on your site.
A Google Sitemap is a list of all of the URL’s (pages) on your web site along with some additional information such as when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site. This can be submitted to Google and it allows the search engine to crawl the site more intelligently. It is really useful when it comes to getting a very large or perhaps dynamic (e.g. eCommerce) site indexed/crawled by GoogleBot.
But several SEO‘s recently have suggested that using sitemaps to get your pages indexed may have a negative (or at least diminished) benefit as it undermines the Google algorithms relating to the “power” of links. If you were not using Sitemaps, GoogleBot would visit your site’s pages through links on and off the site, indexing and ranking those pages it feels are worthy of being indexed and ranked with certain weightings associated with it – such as the PageRank of the site it came from, the anchor text, or the title of the page. If GoogleBot finds your pages from a sitemap submission – you may not receive these benefits.
This discussion is on-going but it is however, widely accepted that for large, complicated sites – that sitemaps are very beneficial as it would take far too long to get all of your sites content completely indexed by GoogleBot through links alone.
We will be reviewing this approach too and will let you know which is the best way to go.