As with all of their tools and products, Google Sitemaps is always being expanded and enhanced to be a better product that provides the best information. How’s it work? It’s really pretty simple, you upload an XML file that details your site structure to Google and it crawls the listed pages. The more often you upload your site, the more often you should upload a new sitemap. The sitemap that you upload not only contains the pages on your site, but it allows you to give them weights or priority levels from 0 to 1.
For instance, if you have blog that has a constantly changing homepage, you’re going to want to give that page a higher weight than say your contact page that is static and never changes. You are also able to specify how often pages change – Always, Hourly, Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly or Never. My site gets about 50% of its traffic from Google searches, so I’m a big advocate of using Google Sitemaps. If you’re a WordPress user, I’d recommend this plugin: http://www.arnebrachhold.de/2005/06/05/google-sitemaps-generator-v2-final It makes the job simple, all you’ve got to do is specify a few parameters and it does the rest for you.
Not currently a Google Sitemap user and want to get started? First off, you need to sign into your Google Account, if you don’t have one, go get one – http://www.google.com/accounts/ Once you’ve got your Google Account setup, log into Google Sitemaps – http://www.google.com/sitemaps/ Add your site(s) and get them verified, and start creating XML sitemap files for Google to consume!
Make sure to read my followup article on how to interpret the information the Google Sitemaps provides.