It must have been hard for Yahoo! and Microsoft to admit that Google Sitemaps are a brilliant idea – but they’ve done it. The two large search engines have joined Google in recognizing the Google Sitemaps file standard.
What is Google Sitemaps?
Google Sitemaps is a tool for webmasters to inform search engines of existing pages, their priority within the website and the frequency with which they are crawled.
As Google itself states in its Webmaster Help Center, sitemaps “… may be particularly helpful if your site has dynamic content, pages that aren’t easily discovered by following links, or if your site is new and has few links to it. Sitemaps helps speed up the discovery of your pages, which is an important first step in crawling and indexing your pages, but there are many other factors that influence the crawling/indexing processes.”
Google also points that Google Sitemaps are only one additional way of providing information to Google and only supplement, but do not replace Google’s normal methods of spidering the web. As Google Sitemaps is also still in beta, there are definitely no guarantees about if and when sitemap content will be picked up by Google.
Nevertheless, the Sitemaps service has proven to be very helpful for both webmasters and Google since its introduction, and Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft have acknowledged this fact by launching a joint website, www.sitemaps.org, that includes detailed information about how to create, validate and submit a sitemap. Yahoo already allows submissions of the new sitemap, while Microsoft is still testing the protocol internally.
Sitemaps – Now Even More Important for SEO
Because sitemaps offer an easy way of informing search engines about new or hard to find content on your site, you should definitely consider adding a sitemap file to your site, especially if you add new pages or update content frequently, if your site is dynamic or if your standard site navigation is not crawler-friendly. You can find more information about sitemaps on the following websites:
Information about the sitemaps protocol and FAQ: www.sitemaps.org
Google’s Webmaster Tools – what is a sitemaps file and why you should have one: http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=40318
Information on how to submit a sitemaps file to Yahoo!: http://www.ysearchblog.com/archives/000380.html