Search Engine Land came out with an article today describing a Google study on sitemaps.
Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.
A sitemap is one of the building blocks for your website. It’s especially important to update and keep your sitemap fresh if you’re a blog or news site. As the Search Engine Land article described, 78% of URLs were seen by Sitemaps first meaning the search engines are crawling and initially discovering new content via a sitemap rather than organically.
The power of submitting a fresh sitemap has actually produced several knock off businesses claiming to get you indexed in ‘blank number of hours”. Essentially what these businesses do to ‘ensure you’re indexed quickly’ is submit an XML sitemap, produce fresh content, and link your site to rapidly changing high page ranked sites.
By producing a new blog post everyday, submitting and updating my XML sitemap via Google webmaster tools, and getting a few blogs to link to me I was indexed within Google’s system in 5 days. It is not rocket science and does not take very much effort on your part to maintain your sitemap.
I highly recommend using the free XML sitemap creator. After creating your XML sitemap download the compressed version and upload the sitemap file to your root directory on your server. If you have any questions about the submitting process visit the Google Webmasters Help Page.
By submitting and keeping you XML sitemap fresh you ensure that the search engine spiders will crawl you pages more often. This will allow modifications to appear in the the search engines more rapidly. Having these changes appear more rapidly ensures your showing up for your primary keywords which can lead to more relevant traffic. Taking care of your XML sitemap is a small piece of the puzzle, but it is highly beneficial to your websites success.