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Site maps are lists of a sites content and can be used to help humans or search engines find all of the content on a site.


HotDoodle Sites Automatically Include Sitemaps

Every HotDoodle site has a sitemap automatically placed where search engines find it. While the map could be made available to human visitors, most HotDoodle sites are not so complex as to need them.   This site, the support site, is an example of a HotDoodle site with more richly structured content than almost any regular HotDoodle site, and this site's sitemap can be seen here: ?action=sitemap&module=navigationmodule  

If you are not seeing the automatic sitemap, it is because you are not reading your site the way a search engine does.  The page menu on the toolbar has a "Search Engine View" that will show you your page the way a search engine might see it.   Here is the search engine view for the page you are currently reading.  If that looks confusing to you just ignore it and know that your HotDoodle site automatically has all of the sitemaps it needs.

If you really want to make a sitemap visible to humans, you can

  • Manually build your own sitemap using links. This lets you label and color things to highlight what you think is important.
  • Link to ?action=sitemap&module=navigationmodule.  
  • Add a site map page, insert intro text in a general block, then insert the menu block in the site map view.   One of these is at the bottom of this page.

Uploading your Own Site Map

HotDoodle discourages uploading sitemaps because

  • any that you uploaded at best would be redundant, and
  • in practice would soon become hurtful as it would quickly become stale.

If you, for example, added a page or an article, it would not in the "stuck in the past"  site map you previously uploaded based on the prior site structure. The automatic HotDoodle sitemap is never stale.


Google Sitemaps are Unnecessary with HotDoodle Sites

The very first thing Google says about their sitemaps is that  "Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover", but they are not needed on HotDoodle sites because each site has an automatic sitemap that ensures that there are no pages that Google and other search engines will not discover. 

Google does NOT state that sitemaps improve SEO placement.

Sitemaps were invented by Google for sites with webbuilders too stupid to make everything findable, or for super complex sites (like Amazon.com) where normal link walking is not appropriate to find the proper content.


Google Sitemaps will Cause Google to Not Include Your Content

Even with the above, sometimes folks still ask about Google sitemaps, particularly after hearing from somebody trying to impress them or sell them their search services. (It sounds impressive, "You don't have a Google sitemap!!!! Ohh, no wonder you need our services ...") It makes the person saying it seem smart, when either they do not really understand sitemaps, or they do not understand your site, or they know all this and are just throwing around FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt -- a common sales tactic). The details in this section should make it clear that externally generated sitemaps are an all-around bad idea for HotDoodle sites.

Before you consider Google sitemaps, you need to ask some basic questions:

  1. Is there any part of your site that would be missed by Google without the sitemap?
  2. Are you planning to hand-edit the Google generated XML sitemap?
  3. Is there any part of your site that will be skipped by Google because of the sitemap?

The answers almost always are are

  • “No, Google will index my entire site without a Google sitemap”,
  • "No, I was not going to hand edit the generaled XML sitemap", and
  • “Yes, having a sitemap will cause Google to skip over parts of my site”.

Lets explore these answers.

Q1: Is there any part of your site that would be missed by Google without the sitemap?

When Google indexes a site (or when it builds a sitemap) it reads the home page of the site, records the links, reads all of those pages recording the links, etc.  So a Google search or a Google sitemap generation finds all that is accessible via normal site links.    All of a HotDoodle site is available by such means.

In Google's own words as the first sentence on their sitemap page, "Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover", but they are not needed on HotDoodle sites because each site has an automatic sitemap that ensures that there are no pages that Google and other search engines will not discover.

Moral: A sitemap built by Google and stored is absolutely no better than what Google would build on the fly without it.

What might be missed in a non-HotDoodle site are those part of a site that pop up only in response to forms such as “Search for Product”, but HotDoodle sites have no such content that is not discoverable by the automatic sitemap.  Also, in a very complex site (think amazon.com) some parts like a product page might be significant to be found in searches while other parts such as customer reviews might be better off skipped so that they do not accidentally come up in search results in preference to the product page.  Google has no brains in which to make such decisions, but such decisions can be encoded into a Google site map – if you edit it after Google generates it.

Moral:A stored Google built sitemap is absolutely no better than what Google would build on the fly without it, but a human edited sitemap might be better if the sites has parts that cannot be found by link walking – which is not true of HotDoodle sites.


Q2: Are you planning to hand-edit the Google generated XML sitemap?

Following the moral above that the sitemap on the fly is the same as the one Google would generate for you there is no reason to have a static site map unless you plan to edit it to help guide Google through your tens of thousands of pages.   Hmmm..., not planning to learn XML editing so you can adjust the sitemap by hand, or you do not have thousands of pages?  Then you do not need to store a site map because a stored Google built sitemap is absolutely no better than what Google would build on the fly without it.


Q3: Is there any part of your site that will be skipped by Google because of the sitemap?

Suppose you generated and stored a Google site map last month and today you add a new page “Trade Show”.  Guess what – the new page is not going to be included in Google searches because it is not in that stale out of date sitemap.  Because of the static sitemap,  content added in new places will be skipped.  If you had not stored the sitemap Google would have built one on the fly, which is just as good as a stored one, except that the on the fly map includes the new content areas.

You were planning to regenerate the site map every time you changed your site's content, weren't you?  If you did you,  much better off than having a stale sitemap, but it would be just the same as having no sitemap and letting one be built every time it was needed. With no stored sitemap Google generates one on the fly and finds the new stuff.

Moral: A Google built sitemap is absolutely no better than what Google would build on the fly without it, but reflects a past point in time and misses any new content added since, where as the map Google builds on the fly finds the new content.

Net: All a sitemap will do is duplicate what Google would do on the fly except that it will cause Google to miss new site content.


Some Questions before Considering a Google Sitemap

The best consideratons for a Google sitemap are taken from the first few paragraphs of Google's own description. Please read it -- most do not and by missing what it contains jump into a unneeded sitemap frenzy.

Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover. In its simplest terms, an XML Sitemap—usually called Sitemap, with a capital S—is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process.

Q1) What, specifically, are the pages on your HotDoodle site that Google might not otherwise discover?
        Note that our HTML sitemap is evaluated by Google

Google then describes when sitemaps are useful:

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process—for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn't well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

Q2) Which of these conditions, specifically, justifies the need for a static sitemap?

Normally the answers are:

  • Dynamic Content – HotDoodle sites have dynamic content, but Google picks it up.  Where sitemaps are needed is if there is dynamic content whose contents is important to SEO that is sometimes not present, but having such content be sometimes not present is just not a good idea.
  • Pages that are not discoverable by Google – HotDoodle takes care to be sure its pages are discovered by Google.
  • A new site with few links to it – Being listed in HotDoodle's site directory is sufficient to get a site discovered. Participating in link pools gets it very linked.
  • Large archive of unlinked pages – not applicable to HotDoodle sites. They are not the NYTimes.

 


Example Embedded SiteMap

This example shows how you can show to humans the automatic site map normally seen only by search engines.



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