Is A Google XML Sitemap Necessary?

by John Hoff on August 6, 2008

Is it necessary to have one? Will it affect my search engine rankings if I don’t have one? Will Google visit my website less because I don’t have one?

Let me see if I can clarify some of the questions people have when it comes to the widely known, but little understood, xml Sitemaps.

A xml Sitemap is a sitemap generated for your website that you have created for our buddy Googlebot to read and get to know your website.

There are some arguments out there as to whether or not a Sitemap is really beneficial to your website. The obvious advantage of having a Sitemap is to help Google index your site better, but does that really have any say in search engine optimization or PageRank?

Does Having A Sitemap Help My Search Engine Rankings?

It’s a crappy answer, but the answer is yes and no.

Having Googlebot crawl your website – and – getting ranked near the top of searches are two different things.

This means having a xml Sitemap does not necessarily affect your search engine rankings. If your website is well laid out through links, Google (and other search engines) will spider your website just fine; so in this case, the answer is no.

However, if your site is not well laid out for search crawlers to index your site, some of your web pages might not get indexed at all. In this case, if you had a xml Sitemap which filled in that missing page, it would now be indexed and thus have a search ranking.

Does Having A Sitemap Get Google To Spider My Site More Often?

Not as a standard setting, no, but . . .

By submitting a Sitemap and using Google’s Webmaster Tools, you can see how Googlebot is indexing your site, how many pages, any problems that might be occurring, and tell it to visit and spider your site more or less often. Keep in mind that with each visit by Googlebot, some of your bandwidth will be used. This could be an issue if your site is already getting a lot of traffic.

Where Can I Get A XML Sitemap?

There are a number of free Sitemap generators out there, just go to your favorite search engine and type “free xml sitemap” and you’ll be taken to a few sites where you can generate one for free.

Note though that if you have a large website with over 500+ pages, you may have to purchase a generator to index your entire site. If you’re using WordPress, you can download an easy plugin to generate your Sitemap automatically.

Once you have a xml Sitemap generated, upload it to your root directory and then head over to Google’s Webmaster Tools (accounts are free, but you need a username and password) and tell Google where your Sitemap is.

Do you use a Sitemap? Do you think it has added any value to your website?

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Leave a Comment

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: