Google has just introduced a beta service that lets webmasters submit ‘sitemaps’ of the pages on their site in an XML file, with a number of tags that help prioritize and categorize the frequency of those pages.
So, for the sake of experimentation and profit, I created my first sitemap XML file for Google. I whipped up a quick php script to run through my list of 400 or so link categories, and 200 odd pages of content and create an appropriately marked up XML file for the pages. I set the directory pages as updated weekly, and all the html pages as archived pages that stay the same, and let it rip.
The documentation says that a sitemap won’t guarantee Google will link all your pages, and they say it won’t speed up the process, but I have sitemapped a new site I made last weekend which hasn’t yet been indexed by Google just to see. The site I made the weekend before is similar in size and structure, and has approximately 90 of its 500 pages indexed after nearly two weeks. If Google’s index picks up more of my new site’s pages than that in its first swing past, I’ll consider it strong evidence that a sitemap does the indexing process some good.
Another great benefit of the sitemap is that you can rank pages…. so, the first page of a multi-page article can be marked as a higher priority than the second, etc. This doesn’t affect your Google SERP for those pages in general, but it does help them put the highest priority links first when there’s more than one link in the SERPS from your site.
In any case, it’s a fun experiment and only took about 15 minutes to accomplish. I’ll fill y’all in on my results if and when I see any.