What is a Google sitemap?

A Google sitemap is a simple XML document which lists all the pages in your website, but it serves a very important purpose. Google sitemaps provide a window into the way Google indexes an entire site. They can also tell you quite a bit about what Google thinks of your website.

Before Google sitemaps was released in 2005, optimizing a site for Google was like playing a game of Russian Roulette. Website’s pages could be deleted from the index with no inclination as to why, as well as site content being scanned, but the only pages which ranked were the About Us pages for sites.

Because webmasters were held at the whim of the Googlebot, sites were literally made and broken over night through shifts in engine positioning. There was absolutely no way to communicate with Google about your website, so if you couldn’t understand what was wrong with your site, you were basically out of luck when it came to ranking in Google.

After the release of sitemaps, getting indexed in Google was a much clearer process. Because of the way sitemaps has influenced the Googlebot, you should understand how they work and how they can benefit your site. Sitemaps provide you with a way to make sure Google knows all valuable information about your site. In return, you can also use sitemaps to learn what Google thinks about your website.

Google’s main concern when it comes to ranking sites is making sure webmasters can communicate important information concerning their sites. The Googlebot does a pretty decent job of finding and categorizing sites, but it has no real ability to rate relative importance of one page versus another. Many pages on the internet are not optimized to be spider friendly because many people just don’t care whether their site is listed high or not. Using sitemaps, Google gives you the ability to tell them on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0 how important each page of your site is, relative to the others. Using this system, you’ll be able to tell Google that your homepage is ranked at 1.0, while your contact information might rate only 0.2. In addition, you can also tell Google how often your website is updated as well as the last modified date of each page on your site.

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