Are sitemaps still useful for SEO?

I was speaking with a client the other day who is very tech savvy and also runs a relativity large site. I was very surprised when I asked him how often he submits a new sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools and I received a response of “Why do you use sitemaps? Aren’t they out dated?”.

Ok so first and formost I have heard from may people say that sitemaps are no longer required because crawlers can now very quickly visit your entire site. These people will also argue that with proper site design and page structure the crawlers will be able to efficiently get to all the pages on your site without the sitemap.

This all may very well be true… crawlers today are much more robust than they were years ago and proper site structure will make crawling more efficient. It happens that Google, Yahoo, and Bing still give you the ability to submit your sitemap. My take is that even if you belive it will help a small amount or not at all isn’t it worth the 5 minute investment? Think about it, if all things are equal and the guy next to use does not use these tools but you do… that may give you the small edge you need to succeed.

I would go so far as to argue that sitemaps are 100% useful for SEO purposes. Sitemaps allow you to tell search engine how often each of your pages gets updated, the last time the page is modified, and the relative priority of the page compared to the rest of the site. They will also guarantee your site to be crawled the most efficiently way possible.

Here are the best places to start to submit your sitemap:

Google Webmaster Tools

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Yahoo! Site Explorer

http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/

Bing – Webmaster Center

http://www.bing.com/webmaster

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