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I've created several small scale websites, usually for small businesses. They usually contain some information about the company, a contact form, and sometimes a few dynamic parts : news, pictures, etc.

I could generate XML sitemaps for these websites, but I am not sure what would be the point ? For websites such as these ones, where the pages are limited and easily discoverable, is it useful to generate a sitemap ? Is there a clear advantage to do so (in terms of SEO mostly) ?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

See About Sitemaps, from Google:

Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process—for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn't well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

Google doesn't guarantee that we'll crawl or index all of your URLs. However, we use the data in your Sitemap to learn about your site's structure, which will allow us to improve our crawler schedule and do a better job crawling your site in the future. In most cases, webmasters will benefit from Sitemap submission, and in no case will you be penalized for it.

So for a small, simple site, it's a judgment call. If there's anything you're concerned will get missed, add a sitemap.

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Creating an XML sitemap index and including XML sitemaps for each of the sections on your site can be a useful way of tracking how well Google is indexing pages in these sections. This gives you a useful set of data to take into account when deciding what areas to spend time on when creating content, link building, and other activities.

You can obtain these statistics by registering your site with Google Webmaster Tools, submitting the sitemap index, and then waiting a while before Google starts reporting the statistics for this file and allowing you to drill down into details for each included sitemap.

For a really small site this isn't critical though. As long as you have decent link structure and can set up custom segments in Analytics for each section of the site you're interested in, it may not be worth the effort.

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There are two types of sitemaps and it's not clear which one you are referring to.

The type artlung is talking about above is an XML based sitemap used by search engines. The one it sounds like you're referring to is a sitemap page on the users site (like this)

The xml sitemap you should definatley have and add to Google Webmaster tools in an effort to get the site fully indexed. The latter is a personal choice and not always needed for smaller sites.

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I was referring to an XML sitemap. –  Wookai Jul 9 '10 at 13:49

The sitemap helps Google (and other search engines) to discover the site especially if it is new and has few links to it. If you just have a few pages which are clearly linked iit is not necessarily needed. Keep in mind though that you can specify the importance within the site so that more important sites are shown in search results.

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There is one type of sitemap that is worth building in any case, and that is for Google's benefit. It's an XML document that you submit to Google - you can use the Webmaster Tools for this - and Google will crawl your site.

The other, more traditional, type of sitemap is the type where you list all your pages and the appropriate links on a single page, which is linked somewhere on your website, either in the navigation or footer. This is helpful to the user of your site, especially if the site is big and complex. For a smaller/simpler site, this type of sitemap is not really needed, though it's not a bad idea to provide it anyway.

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