Although by itself a sitemap will not enhance your site’s ranking, submitting an xml or text sitemap may hasten the Google-bot’s next (or first) visit to your site and will definitely help the Google-bot index your site once it gets there. A text sitemap lists the url’s to be indexed. An xml sitemap does that as well, but also can indicate the priority and modification frequency of each page.
Google provides useful examples for webmasters who want to roll their own sitemaps at www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/. These examples work. By following them, I created and submitted a sitemap for www.buffet21.com. Buffet 21 is an all-you can eat restaurant (tenedor libre) in Montevideo, Uruguay. The site was indexed within 24 hours after I submitted the sitemap and, as of May 22, 2007, it ranks second and third under the search terms “tenedor libre Montevideo”.
I have manually created and submitted Google sitemaps for a number of other sites, as well. This morning, though, I decided to check out an automated online sitemap generator, xml-sitemaps.com. Wow. The service offered by xml-sitemaps.com is absolutely awesome. And it’s free for sites of less than 500 pages. The sitemap generator perfectly mapped our site, Prestige Web Solutions, perfectly. Although I did have to modify the file to specify the priorities and update frequencies of individual pages, doing that was a snap compared to creating an xml sitemap from scratch. I submitted the sitemap to Google, waited 13 minutes and, presto, Google reported the sitemap to be valid.
In addition to the Google sitemap, xml-sitemaps.com also created urllist.txt and ror.xml files, also without charge. Urllist.txt is the sitemap-equivalent used by the Yahoo! bot and ror.xml has a variety of uses relating to blogs and other Web 2.0 content.
AND THAT’S NOT ALL! The online generator also told me of four broken links on our site. For just $5.00 US, xml-sitemaps.com provided the names of the files containing the broken links, as well as the names of the non-existent pages the links were pointing to. So, for $5.00, I was able to fix what might have cost me $100 or more to have an employee do by hand. And since you can’t charge clients for time spent fixing your own mistakes, that would have been money out of pocket.
I strongly recommend xml-sitemaps.com for xml sitemap generation and broken link notification! It’s a great step towards enhancing your Google and Yahoo! rankings.