Sitemap is one of the most ignored aspects of site search optimization. By sitemap we mean a webpage on your website where all links, sections and structure of your website are listed for either use by search engines or by humans. In robots.txt file, you tell search engines which area of your website to not index and in sitemap you exactly tell search engines which parts of your website it should actively index.
History of Sitemaps
Sitemap is not something that has been invented recently. Web designers have been using these for many years but now that search engines have started using these for indexing a website, importance of sitemap has grown.
Types of Sitemap
It should be clear that if you intend to get SEO benefit from sitemap, then the traditional .html sitemap is not the answer because Google wants a sitemap in XML format which is quite different from the html sitemap that web developers have used for humans in the past.
In fact it is possible to use both the sitemaps without inviting any duplicate content penalty from Google because Google’s own guidelines on Sitemaps clearly state that there is never a penalty arising from using sitemaps.
Why Using a Sitemap is Important?
Two very important benefits of sitemaps are search engine visibility and navigation. By using a sitemap, you can inform search engine about new content or any change in the existing content on your website immediately. It is not mandatory for the search engines to rush to index your website, but it definitely improves the process of indexing a website.
Search engines come to visit websites mostly when they find your link on an existing website. But by using a sitemap you can directly invite search engines directly without relying on the external links. This is all the more important for a new website or for any new content on an existing website.
Can I be Safe Even without Using Sitemap?
It is perfectly permissible to have a website without having a sitemap but given the benefits, it is recommended that you have one. Moreover, it is likely that in future sitemap will become the best way of submitting website and content for search engines’ attention. It is all the more probable that importance of sitemap will only grow in future.