Search engines including google and Yahoo support sitemap protocol.Sitemap is a way of letting the googlebots and Yahoo slurps know the URLs on your website or blog. Some SEO (Search engine optimization) practitioners claim that a XML sitemap is bad for your blog/website. Read it here and here. But their arguments are not convincing. If it is bad, Google or Yahoo would not stress the importance of sitemaps.Google explicitly encourage webmasters to use sitemaps.There had been several instances when google and its folks have highlighted the advantages of having a sitemap.
The SEO practitioners who are against using a XML sitemap, argue that a XML sitemap is a standalone page, an island, or a mere doorway page. They feel that XML sitemaps are a quick route to supplemental hell and even if the XML sitemaps might get your pages indexed faster, they won’t make you rank any better. So, according to those SEO folks, it is always better to get a page indexed via links (internal or external links) in order to improve the page’s rank.But the negative reasons that they have laid down above, should hold good for any sitemap irrespective of whether it is built as an XML or HTML.
But if you ask me, sitemap has only advantages and there are no real disadvantages.You can use a sitemap, built either using XML or HTML.It is important to understand that Google does not only use the anchor text in anchor links, for knowing what the page is all about.It also uses the keywords in the URL and the title to understand the page content’s theme. Hence the URLs in sitemaps, whether it be based on XML or HTML, does convey meaning to the search crawlers via the keywords in the URL.The URLs in the sitemap are only a point of entry, for the search crawlers, to index the pages they represent.
Getting a page indexed is different from getting it ranked in search engines:
Also getting a page indexed is only a way of entering the search engines’ huge database of pages. For the page to get ranked, it should have good content and a lot of incoming links.Read on how content quality, content promotion and link building activities are as vital as posting frequencies and quantity of posts.
Get your pages indexed first and then work towards ranking them. Sitemaps help by providing another route for the search engines, to get your pages indexed. Indexing a page and getting a page ranked via incoming links are two different activities and not simultaneous.Ranking is a much more continual process than indexing.Also note that Google’s supplemental index is an index of duplicate content and xml sitemaps are not responsible for logging a page in the supplemental hell.On the contrary, sitemaps actually help the search engines to determine the right URLs (canonical versions) for a content.
Advantages of a sitemap:
- If search engine crawlers like googlebot and Yahoo slurps hasn’t crawled your blog/website’s homepage for a while, then having a Sitemap, that lists your homepage URL, helps. Although a Sitemap doesn’t guarantee that search crawlers will crawl all listed URLs, it’s a good way of letting them know that the URL is important to you and you want it to be included in the crawl.Hence having a sitemap, that is up to date, is always good for your blog/website.
- Another advantage with sitemaps is they provide a good way of pointing the right URLs (canonical versions) to the search engine crawlers. For example, if the crawlers find several URLs, on your blog/website, that point to the same content, but only one of them is in your Sitemap, they will use that URL as the canonical URL.
Hence there are never any disadvantages in using a sitemap, whether it be XML or HTML.Have a sitemap to get your content indexed faster and then work towards making the content rank better.