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January 12, 2007

Sitemaps Are Valuable

If you underestimated the importance of submitting a sitemap for your site to Google, or if you didn't know what sitemap format to choose, watch this WebProNews interview with Vanessa Fox from Google.

A sitemap is useful to let Google discover all the pages of your site. Even though it's not necessary to submit a sitemap if you use internal links properly, sometimes it's just to easy to obtain one. If you have a blog, your feed could be submitted as a partial sitemap. If you have a simple site, ROR Sitemap Generator will crawl it and generate a sitemap.

The sitemap protocol, developed by Google, and supported by Yahoo and Microsoft, is useful to create complex sitemaps that include information about the last update of a page or its importance. "Sitemaps enhance the current model of Web crawling by allowing webmasters to list all their Web pages to improve comprehensiveness, notify search engines of changes or new pages to help freshness, and identify unchanged pages to prevent unnecessary crawling and save bandwidth."

Vanessa Fox recommends to create a sitemap especially for new sites and dynamic sites with a lot inaccessible pages.

Webzari - visual site explorer
How to create a good site


  1. There were many cases in which web-sites were exploited because hackers found old code residing on the server, old code whose location was exposed by sitemaps.

  2. Anonymous: That's an argument for writing secure code in the first place, as well as for periodic reviews of old code. It could even be used as an argument for reducing your attack surface. However, the one thing it is not is an argument against sitemaps. If a hacker is determined, he can just look for random addresses. I'm getting really tired of people saying that an unlisted page is a secure page. (You can take a look at the numerous posts on this very blog about Picasa's insecure unlisted albums.)

  3. There's one advantage of Google Sitemaps that nobody is talking about: for many webmasters, it will be the first time they take a crawler's view of their website, the first time they crawl their website. You would not believe how many people have uncrawlable sites, either with neato javascript menus, post-based navigation, session-id mania, etc etc - and that includes sites which have been online for years. Fix those issues when you spot them, you'll gain much more than a clean sitemap file.