The concept of website Sitemaps is not new. In the early days of the
Internet, having a
Sitemap was as important as it is today, but in those days, Sitemaps were primarily
intended for human visitors; that they also were helping search engine crawlers was
just a side benefit. HTML Sitemaps are the organized collection of site links and their
associated descriptions. Use of HTML Sitemaps was and still is one of the “nuts and
bolts” of SEO, and they are still the most popular Sitemap type.
Over the years, search engines realized the benefit of Sitemaps. Google jumped on this
concept in 2005 with the creation of its own Google Sitemap Protocol. Shortly after,
Yahoo!, Microsoft, Ask, and IBM jumped on the bandwagon. During 2006, Google
Sitemaps Protocol was renamed XML Sitemap Protocol, to acknowledge its “universal”
acceptance. The work of these joint efforts is now under the auspices of Sitemaps.org.
The premise of using XML Sitemap Protocol was that it would help search engines
index content faster while providing ways to improve their existing crawling algorithms.
Using XML Sitemap Protocol does not guarantee anything in terms of better
page rankings. Furthermore, use of XML Sitemap Protocol is not mandatory for all
sites. In other words, a website will not be penalized if it is not using XML Sitemaps.