Role of a Sitemap

October 6, 2009

A sitemap, or site index, is a hierarchical visual model of the pages of a Web site.Similar to a table of contents in a book, the site map makes it easier for a user to find information on a site without having to navigate through the site’s many pages. A sitemap can be XML, TXT or HTML usually XML and TXT is served for robots.
XML Sitemaps are one of the best ways to let search engines know about the pages on your site in detail. They allow you to specify the importance of each page, the frequency which they should download them and the last time you modified them.
Sitemaps are not only used by the visitors to easily navigate a website, search engines like Google and Yahoo also uses them! How? To make the work of search engine spiders or crawlers easy sitemaps are used as guide to know the pages to be crawled. Nowadays sitemaps are used in all websites to increase the visibility of the web pages to visitors as well as to search engines by listing all web pages.
HTML sitemap help the users to navigate easily and XML sitemap is essential for the visibility of a site by search engine crawler. Both are equally important and essential for a site. There are some advantages of XML sitemap and additional features too which HTML sitemap doesn’t have:

• To crawl all the web pages of a site frequently.
• Can set the priority for each page to crawl.
• To make the site crawl for all the search engines.
• Can allow the spider to track all the pages of the site.
• It helps the spider in fast indexing.
• The crawler tracks the updates or changes made in the site immediately.
• It allows search engine to rank accurately.

XML sitemap saves the time of search engine spider to track all the pages of a site. It does not affect the site ranking but it allows crawler to track all the pages frequently which is helpful to rank well. Previously, XML sitemap was important for Google only but now Yahoo! and MSN are also giving importance to it.