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Ever wonder why you should submit your sitemap to Google and the other search engines, or if there is really any value in doing it? We explore those questions and more in our examination of HTML and XML sitemaps.
What is a submitted or off-site Sitemap
A Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website. Submitting a Sitemap helps make sure the search engines know about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by normal crawling process.
Myths and Facts About XML Sitemap Submission
There has been alot of discussion lately about why a site should or shouldn’t submit their sitemap to Google’s Webmaster tools. So lets break this down and first look at some myths about submitting your Sitemap.
Myth Or Fact #1
If you submit your site to Google Webmaster tools it will automatically get indexed?
This is not true and Google even says: “submitting a Sitemap does not guarantee indexing”
Myth Or Fact #2
Submitting a sitemap will help your rankings?
This is not true. Submitting a sitemap to Google has no bearings on rankings, because being indexed and being ranked are 2 different things. Rankings come from on-site content, inbound links, and creating well engineered and well SEO’ed pages.
Google Says: “Submit a sitemap to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover”
I say: “If your not creating sites that can be crawled and indexed you are doing a disservice to your online business.”
Myth Or Fact #3
Submitting your sitemap will help Google crawl your site?
Crawl frequency and crawl rate is not based on indexed URLs or URLs submitted. It is based on clean code, page size, and inbound links, and page rank.
So should you submit a sitemap to Google?
3 Reasons You Should Not Submit Your Sitemap
If your site has indexing problems (poor navigation, poor internal linking, Flash, Ajax) it could cover these problems. You need to know a websites weakness so that you can fix it.
It gives Google the URLs without having to find them through natural methods such as internal and inbound links which helps with rankings.
Google does not need to come to your site to find pages and therefor the crawl frequency of your site might go down. If the current thinking by SEO’s is correct (that indexing and caching rate gives a better representation of page rank than the little green bar) than you want Google coming to your site often.
So basically if you have a well designed site that is engineered well, has good internal linking and inbound links you should not need to submit a Sitemap.
When should you submit your sitemap to Google?
I think the best time to do this is if your site is within the top 5% of the web for total pages. If you have thousands of pages and most of your traffic is gained from long tail terms then I would say submit a sitemap because the long tail is not as dependent on many of the ranking factors that head or even mid tail traffic is; so any increase in indexed pages will help.