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A good barometer for what is and what isn’t important in the world of SEO is whether or not Google are talking about it. Despite the emergence of Bing and perennial rivals Yahoo, Google remains the dominant force in the world of search engines. So when their Webmaster Central Blog starts talking about the importance of Sitemaps, it’s probably time to listen.
Of course, it’s not exactly an industry secret that Sitemaps are an integral part of general SEO. However, with a three-fold rise in Sitemap submissions online last year and Google openly acknowledging (based on their earlier research) that they can help to get your site pages indexed quicker, it does make sense to implement one as soon as possible.
As the name suggests, a Sitemap is a page that charts each individual page within a website’s navigation. Every time a new page is added, it is logged here and alerts the search engine spiders to start crawling and instructs them where to look; after of course you have submitted it to them.
Depending on the size of your website, setting up a Sitemap can be quite a complex and time consuming process. Useful information on the coding and setup for a Sitemap is available at Sitemaps.org, a universal website that provides the platform for all search engines and all XML maps. You can then choose to host this through a search engine’s individual Sitemap platform, including the one available through Google Webmaster Tools. Professional Content Management Systems should also allow you the freedom to edit, update and upload your evolving Sitemap.
Today’s announcement on the Google blog also included details about expansions to the online Sitemap. This included the ability for a single Sitemap Index to include up to 2.5 billion individual URLs; probably not a significant issue for most standard sized website it has to be said.
So if your websites pages aren’t getting indexed and your online visibility is suffering as a result, this is probably evidence enough that creating a Sitemap could be hugely beneficial. Of course there are no guarantees; however it is certainly one foot on the ladder to improved online visibility, as well as a clear navigation for visitors.