For dynamic e-commerce websites (See #1 for a definition – Monte Enbysk from Microsoft.com), or other database driven sites, the Google SiteMaps program is surely a life-changer. Check out the Google Blog for more insights into why they’ve released this program.
Essentially, you submit an XML file to Google that references every link on your website. The next time it’s your turn to be spidered by Google, the Google spider will have an easier time of finding and indexing all the pages on your site because of this XML file that you submit to them.
The high-level steps involved in submitting an XML sitemap to Google:
First: Create the sitemap (XML file)
If you are a programmer or have programmers inside your organization, here is a good place to start.
If you’re not a programmer, simplify your life by using a free tool like SitemapsPal.
Using their wizard you’ll be able to create an XML file. Save that file to your desktop and proceed. You’ll probably want to create a new file regularly depending on how often you update your site.
Second: Register for a Google Sitemaps account
Third: Upload an empty file to your server following Google’s specs.
When you log in to your Sitemaps account, one of the things Google will ask you to do will be to upload an empty file to your web server with a filename that they give you.
This is how you prove to Google that you are the rightful owner of the website.
This also enables you to get some general statistics. The most interesting stats you’ll be given are the keywords/phrases that send the most traffic to your site from Google.
The stats that Google will offer members of the Sitemaps program are a big step in the right direction. It’s valuable to see that “XXXXXX?? keyword sends more traffic to my site from the natural Google result pages than any other keyword.
What’s missing is the actual number of clicks that are sent to the website. Sure, Google AdWords customers can now sign up for the Urchin analytics tool (for free) and garner this information, but it would great to see these stats from inside the Sitemaps login.
What would also be VERY nice is for Google to show us how many times specific search phrases are searched over the period of a month.
Kudos to Google for once again being ahead of all the other search engines. Google is the only major search engine that offers functionality like this without lumping in a pay per click model.
Answers to the Obvious Questions
Google claims that submitting a sitemap will not give you BETTER rankings.
Submitting a sitemap if you already have good rankings should not jeopardize your rankings
Answers to more frequently asked questions.