Sitemaps have only been in common use for a couple of years now, but there is still confusion around some aspect of them. Your site is not guaranteed a listing in any search engine just because you have a sitemap. In fact, none of the search engines guarantee that your site will be crawled or indexed just because you have a sitemap. However, a sitemap will make your website more crawlable and easier to crawl.
Because the search engine spiderbots crawl the web through links, you want to make sure that each of the pages on your website has a crawlable inbound link to it so that it can be crawled, indexed, and ranked. That’s what a sitemap does for you.
You should have a sitemap if you have a new site and you don’t have that many links pointing to it yet. You should also have a sitemap if your site is older with a lot of pages archived that have no linking structure, or that have a bad linking structure. Other times you might include a sitemap on your website are:
- When you have dynamic content
- You use AJAX or Flash
- You have a lot of videos
- Your website isn’t getting indexed
In essence, if you want to ensure that your site is crawled an indexed then a sitemap will go a long way to help you. But having one doesn’t guarantee anything.