Why Site Maps are Important
There are many steps in optimizing a website and one important step is having sitemaps, which is sometimes underestimated. Sitemaps, as the name implies, are just a map of your site, one single page you show the structure of your site, its sections, the links between them, etc. Sitemaps make navigating your site easier and having an updated sitemap on your site is good both for your users and for search engines. Sitemaps are an important way of communication with search engines. While in robots.txt you tell search engines which parts of your site to exclude from indexing, in your site map you tell search engines where you’d like them to go.
Sitemaps are not a novelty. They have always been part of best web design practices but with the adoption of sitemaps by search engines, now they have become even more important. However, it is necessary to make a clarification that if you are interested in sitemaps mainly from a SEO point of view, you can’t go on with the conventional sitemap only. For instance, Google Sitemaps uses a special (XML) format that is different from the ordinary html sitemap for human visitors.
One might ask why two sitemaps are necessary? The answer is – one is for humans, the other is for spiders.
Why Use a Sitemap
Using sitemaps has many benefits, not only easier navigation and better visibility by search engines. Sitemaps offer the opportunity to inform search engines immediately about any changes on your site. Of course, you cannot expect that search engines will rush right away to index your changed pages but certainly the changes will be indexed faster, compared to when you don’t have a sitemap. Also, when you have a sitemap and submit it to the search engines, you rely less on external links that will bring search engines to your site.
If your site is new, or if you have a significant number of new (or recently updated pages), then using a sitemap can be vital to your success. Although you can still go without a sitemap, it is likely that soon sitemaps will become the standard way of submitting a site to search engines. Though it is certain that spiders will continue to index the web and sitemaps will not make the standard crawling procedures obsolete, it is logical to say that the importance of sitemaps will continue to increase.