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Sitemaps is for Sissies

I just watched the WebProNews interview with Vanessa Fox (via TheBuzzBox), where Rand Fishkin asked Vanessa about Sitemaps. Basically, Dave Naylor said sitemaps is for SEO sissies, and Rand wanted to know if Dave is right (or something like that).

Vanessa seemed to agree with Dave Naylor: you don’t need to use sitemaps if your ok getting your site spidered. There may be additional benefits to using sitemaps, and there may be some convenience brought by sitemaps, but (by my read) Vanessa didn’t offer any compelling reasons why a healthy site needs sitemaps. But Vanessa did clarify that it has nothing to do with rank, and whatever additional benefits there may be, they have nothing to do with rank.

Why does this matter? It doesn’t. Unless it does. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any concerns. You use Google accounts, use sitemaps, enjoy the webmaster tools Google provides, whatever. But remember you cannot revoke a claim on a web site. Once claimed (via sitemaps), the site is “owned” and Google Trust is granted. Can it be ungranted? Can ownership be revoked? What Google does with information is up to Google. Every bit you provide is another bit that will be used outside of your view. Forever. If you’re okay with that, then you have no worries.



  1. Lea de Groot wrote:

    Its interesting – I would like to think that if the site verification token is removed from the site that you would then not be associated with the site anymore.
    It makes sense – not everyone is a one-man-band who runs a site forever or until they get sick of it.
    Some of us sell sites.
    Some of us work on sites for employers
    Some of us work on sites for clients.

    In all these cases there will come a time where you are no longer affiliate with the site.
    Hopefully Google has taken this into account – but how can we know? :(

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 4:29 am | Permalink
  2. SEO Buzz Box wrote:

    Vanessa also confirmed that sitemaps can be used to ping Google of changes.

    Here is how I use it:

    I make a new post to blog, I ping sitemaps, Three days later I change the content a bit in the post, I zip off a new sitemap notifying Google of changes, trust is granted and the page is recrawled. I find sitemaps to be useful in developing new site trust in Google, if you remove the site from your google webmaster console and the barcode from root you logically should be fine.

    But you are correct sir, one never really knows, maybe we could ping Vanessa and get her in here to answer?

    John Andrews replies: Yes, that ping feature is convenient. As for the association/dissociation thing, I wasn’t clear enough. Let me try to clarify:

    We now know that Google imparts intent. Google spam team members make judgements about your site, based on available evidence, and outside of your view. Matt Cutts demonstrated this in Vegas when he questioned a site owner on his un-associated, unused domains. The message was later clarified: Google looks to see if the web master has spammy tendencies. That marks a new era for Google, and perches them on a very slippery slope.

    Given that such judgements are executed in private by Google, with no transparency and no opportunity for rebuttal, the less data you provide to Google the better. If you associate a name/email with a site, will that ever be dissociated? Sure you can remove it, but will it be considered removed by Google’s Judge & Jury? I doubt it. Because if I were Google, I would always want to keep in mind that John Andrews once ‘owned’ a particular web site.  Maybe he’s no longer involved, but maybe he is, or maybe the fact that he once was involved reflects on the nature of the web site owner… highly competitive, highly-traind by some experience under John Andrews guidance, or at least willing to hire very competitive SEO consultants to achieve top rankings. All good info, and all info that I believe needs to be hidden from Google.

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 7:26 am | Permalink
  3. your_store wrote:

    “Every bit you provide is another bit that will be used outside of your view.”

    Thank you for condensing my mantra into a single sentence. I still don’t understand why any SEO would volunteer information to Google or any other SE. The SEs already know too much, why give them a helping hand?

    Wednesday, December 13, 2006 at 7:46 am | Permalink