Google Sitemaps Benefits
The Google Sitemaps beta program has barely gotten out of the starting blocks and Google is already receiving (and ignoring) some heavy flak, mainly from disappointed SMEs.
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The debate about the program started out on a Google group and has quickly shifted from “How to use the technology” to “What’s in it for me?”
Most questions regarding Google Sitemaps are answered adequately in their own FAQ section. But that hasn’t stopped many Webmasters from expecting benefits that the program simply never promised in the first place.
Many expected instant crawls, immediate and complete indexation of the submitted pages, higher ranking and even improved PageRank! Well, Google Sitemaps isn’t delivering that, it didn’t say it would (quite the opposite) and it wasn’t brought to life for that purpose.
Google Sitemaps is an experiment in crawling, designed to make Google’s own life easier. Harmonised sitemaps in xml format would make it easier for Google to find content it might want to include in its index. The ultimate benefactor would of course be the searcher.
And for Webmasters? The program doesn’t even guarantee the submitted URLs will be crawled (and that really is not the same as indexing) but many, including myself, have reported that their sitemap and its content did get spidered. Is that a benefit? Yes, albeit to many only a small one. Getting pages in the index and getting high rankings on relevant search terms is the goal in SEM and that isn’t something Google Sitemaps can help you with.
As a result, some disappointed Webmasters have called the program anything from ”the scam of the century” to “spyware”!
Some have reported loss of pages in Google’s index and have attributed this to using the xml sitemaps. I find it hard to see where the connection is. If the program isn’t responsible for indexing your pages then how can it be responsible for knocking pages out of the index?
The bottom line is that using xml formatted sitemaps can get your pages crawled but that’s about the most you can expect at the present time. Individual Webmasters need to work out whether that’s a sufficient benefit to them or not. Personally, I won't be using the program anymore until it comes out of the beta phase.
Further reading on Google Sitemaps:
True or false
Sitemaps and blogs
Short guide to installing a sitemap
Keywords: google sitemaps benefits