Sitemaps.org, born of historic collaboration between Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, intends to simplify the tenuous endeavor of directing search engines to your site’s relevant content. Thus, sitemaps are garnering renewed focus and while the forge is still hot, Vanessa Fox helps clear the smoke. Who better to press a key member of Google Sitemaps for answers than Rand Fishkin, SEO expert from SEOmoz.org.
Does a duplicate content filter induce duplicate content penalties? What about format preference? Is XML king or can a simple text file suffice? What the hell is OAI-PMH? Given some recent dialog on sitemaps versus other SEO methods, Vanessa reiterates the intent of a sitemap: it should be merely one part of the strategy.
“[Google] Sitemaps doesn’t impact your ranking at all… it helps with the very first obstacle of learning about all of your pages.” It’s about crawling, thus it doesn’t preclude code optimization, site organization or other sensible methods in SEO. It may indirectly allow for better ranking but won’t provide it.
Fox also addresses common concerns such as code to text ratio, priority settings and Google Toolbar’s pagerank reports versus Google Webmaster Tool’s.
“[Webmaster Tools] is a little more accurate, a little more up-to-date… the Toolbar pageranking doesn’t get updated quite as often, of course it’s only one factor. I feel like people get really hung-up on the Toolbar pagerank. People probably spend a little more energy on it than they need to.”