I’ve always thought that one of my greatest strengths is to quickly evaluate a tactic and know if it will work or not with better than average accuracy. That’s why the tactic of adding an xml sitemap to your site (go read www.sitemaps.org for more information or go and check this out.
When this first came out, I was all over it. Everybody had to have a sitemap. Get it up, do it. If you don’t have the resources or know-how I’ll do it for you. THIS IS IMPORTANT I said.
Then the sites with sitemaps seemed to get no advantage. No increased traffic. No increased rankings. In fact, in more than half the cases I encountered, the sitemaps actually seemed to hurt the sites that implemented them. I began to do some research.
My friend Bill Hartzer sugggested that perhaps the sitemaps brought more scrutiny on the sites that used them. That made sense to me. After all, if you set up the sitemaps schema correctly, you not only list the importance of the page on a 1-10 scale, but you also indicate how often the page is updated. Almost every client I worked with kept the importance of all of their pages at a 5 and that they were updated daily. This is not the case in almost all instances. SO basically…well my clients used the sitemaps to prove to Google that they were liars. And their rankings were falling. TAKE DOWN THE SITEMAPS.
So the standard line became – if you have a site with less than 3,000 pages, you don’t need an xml sitemap.
One point of clarification I think I need to make in this post because it is basically stream of conciousness. I’m ONLY talking about xml sitemaps, not HTML sitemaps. Don’t hound me on that, ok?
Now, back to the conundrum. Recently,I had a client come in (a new client) that had already implemented a sitemap. The site had around 400 pages and was doing ok in Google, but not great. There was a lot of work to be done. The first step I took was to take down the sitemap. In two days the rankings dropped and so did the traffic. I looked like a moron. We put the sitemap back up, but haven’t seen any recovery yet. Not a huge deal, since we are overhauling the site for SEO anyway – but now I’m confused.
One incident may be the exception that proves my rule (or should I call it Hartzer’s Logic?). But I am confused. Anyone care to chime in here?