Google Sitemaps - Are They Or Aren't They Lucrative SEO Tools

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    Keywords are a very important aspect in implementing any search engine optimization. SEO companies spend
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                            Google Sitemaps :: Are They Or Aren't They Lucrative SEO Tools?
                                                   By Rob Sullivan1



   Google has had a feature out for some time which allows webmasters to create a sitemap file to
help Google's crawlers find and index content.

It sounds like a great idea. After all, it's much easier to feed the crawler the content then hope it finds it
on it's own.

 But is a Google sitemap worthwhile? Is it even necessary?

When the Google Sitemap program first started my thought was “That's kinda cool but what's the real
benefit?”

So, I thought I'd try it out and submit sitemaps for a few sites that I own.

When Google Sitemaps first came out it was very difficult to figure out what all the entries meant as
well as how to actually create the sitemap.

Sure, it was XML based, and I could plainly see what they expected but when you have a large site,
how do you go about creating this?

Then Google came out with
http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/docs/en/sitemap-generator.html, a sitemap generator
which is a program intended to help you create a sitemap for your site. This does help speed up the
process but unless you are a developer it is a little difficult to implement.

Also, you need access to your server to run the script required to generate the sitemap. If you are
unsure you should check with your web host to see if you have terminal access to execute Python
scripts.

Personally, I've never tried the Google Sitemapper tool but I have used others. For example, on my
personal blog which uses Moveable Type, I found a blog post which shows How to build a Movable
Type Google sitemap template
http://www.niallkennedy.com/blog/archives/2005/06/google_sitemaps.html. And I've used Xenu and an

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Excel spreadsheet http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?p=199253 which works great as
well.

Now that the sitemap creation is covered, let's get into the question at hand. Is a Google sitemap really
worth the effort?

A few months ago I would have said no, but lately Google has been adding features that make me
think otherwise.

For example, if you've gone through the verification process (which is really just placing a blank HTML
file on the site and having Google find it) and ensured your 404 errors are properly configured you can
get access to a wealth of additional intel.

One such feature is the “Top Search Queries.” This tells you which queries were used when your
pages appeared in the search results but may not have been clicked on.

In other words, these are actual searcher queries that were performed on Google where your site may
have appeared but not had click-through's.

>From a keyword research point of view, this is a huge advantage to you. By monitoring your sitemap
stats you can easily see some of the terms people are using and perhaps determine what you need to
do to rank higher for those terms so you too can get the clicks that your competitors are receiving.

If you don't have ready access to log analysis or other stats, the Google sitemap can also tell you what
terms actually drove traffic to your site.

In other words, these were searches performed on Google that actually generated clicks for your site.

There's also a wealth of other information. For example, "Crawl Stats" shows you how Googlebot sees
your site, errors generated by it, and even a PageRank distribution chart detailing how well PageRank
is distributed.

So, if you are like me and wondering if a Google sitemap is worth it I'd say yes, it is. The information
provided, while mostly technical, can help you troubleshoot problems as well as provide ideas to help
you improve your positioning.



Rob Sullivan is a SEO Consultant and Writer for http://www.textlinkbrokers.com. Textlinkbrokers is a
link building company. Please provide a link directly to Textlinkbrokers when syndicating this article.




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                                Search Marketing 101: The Importance of Sitemaps
                                                         By John Hill



While there are several on-page and off-page search engine optimization techniques that play an
important role in garnering higher page rank and link popularity, the importance of an often forgotten
technique is usually underestimated - sitemaps. Simply put, these are a map of your website, a single
page (or hierarchy of pages) that show the complete structure of your website along with the various
sections, the main and secondary links and other details. A good sitemap helps visitors to your site,
navigate your site easily.

 Moreover, having an updated sitemap on your website helps not only your visitors, but the search
engines too. Consider sitemaps to be a unique way to communicate with the search engines and
telling them where you'd like them to crawl on your website.

Sitemaps and Search Engines

 Sitemaps have been around for many years now and despite the fact that they are not a novelty, it's
only after the search engines adopted them that they have suddenly caught the eye of all good
webmasters as part of their search engine optimization strategy. If you simply want to use sitemaps for
search engine optimization purposes, then conventional HTML site maps are not for you. For example:
Google Sitemaps should be written in XML, which is very different from the regular HTML site maps
that are used for website visitors.

 So does this mean that you need to have two sitemaps for your website? The answer is - Yes. One
site map is for Googlebot or the Google spider, while the other is for your visitors. You should also be
aware that having two sitemaps is not considered to be duplicate content and this has been made
explicitly clear by Google, as it has stated that having two site maps will not lead to any penalty for your
website.

 In November 2006, the top three search engines (Google, Yahoo! and MSN) came together to create
an industry standard for site maps for all websites. This standard was named 'sitemaps 0.90.' For all
those webmasters who wish to get their sites indexed by these top search engines, following the
protocols laid down in sitemaps 0.90 is a prerequisite.

Generating and Submitting Sitemaps To Search Engines

 Once you have your website ready with your XML site map, you need to upload your website to your
server and then notify Google, through Webmaster Tools, where your sitemap lives . Typically, there
are two ways of generating a site map.

1. You can install a sitemap generator script on your website.

2. You can use an on-line sitemap generation tool to create one.

 Though the first option is difficult it offers you more control over the final result. Google Sitemap
Generator is a good tool that can be used for generating a site map. Since the tool is coded in Python
script, you need to have Python 2.2 version on your web server to run it.


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 The second method of generating a site map while being easier doesn't give you much flexibility.
Google also suggests some 3rd party Sitemap tools but warns users that it has not tested or verified
them. Having created a site map, it's time to upload it to your website and let Google, Yahoo and MSN
know about it.

John Hill - A search marketing professional and UK SEO specialist with E-Gain New Media Ltd. [
http://www.e-gain.co.uk] offering UK search engine optimisation, PPC management and search
marketing.




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