No, Google Sitemaps are are just (mass) URL submissions. If you feel comfortable using Google's add-url form to submit your URLs, you can submit an XML sitemap too. In any case you should care what you're submitting. Junk submissions from your site may have impact on search engine placements of clean pages.

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For a while I was struggling with this FAQ article. I knew I can't avoid it, but having a zero-bullshit-tolerance it's hard to stay polite in this case. I'm a strong believer in there is no such thing as a dumb question, but this question is the exception to the rule. At least this goes for Web-savvy questioners flooding the forums and user groups with variations of this question. Otherwise the question is valid, and the answer is no. Machine readable mass submissions of questionable content make it easier to apply quality guidelines, but indexing based on regular crawling (following links) leads to the same results as a sitemap based crawl, sooner or later.

Google launched the sitemaps program im June 2005, more or less concurrently with other changes, e.g. improved index-spam and duplicate content filtering (besides some algorithmic changes probably primal noted because existing rules were enforced on a broader amount of Web objects). Those changes have produced some collateral damage, but Google's goal to improve the search results was achieved (Google takes feedback serious and has reinstated sites innocently caught by those filters). As for collateral damage, this lies in the eye of the beholder. Just because a Webmaster claims to operate a so called "legit and valuable site", that does not mean that Google considers it compliant to its guidelines. For example, intentional as well as unintentional content duplication worked for years. Just because it worked and made some folks rich, that does not mean that it was legit or valuable in the means of Google's mission to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful".

If you can't manage to operate a site compliant to Google's written and unwritten policies (that means you're ignoring Google's Webmaster guidelines, professional advice, and common sense), or if your great and innocent site gets tanked because a Google ranking algorithm respectively spam filter causes collateral damage (this happens mostly when a Web site provides questionable or duplicated content, or when a Web site is involved in systematic artificial linkage), or if your server was down or unreachable for Googlebot during the scheduled crawl, don't blame the sitemap.

There are a zillion reasons why a site or a bunch of pages can disappear temporarily, or even permanently. Besides connectivity issues, server outages, rare coincidences, and very few cases of proved collateral damage, the reasons can be revealed by a SEO site review. A professional SEO consultant can often help to lift a ban or penalty, respectively s/he's able to track down the causes for a temporarily disappearance.

Junk submissions via Google Sitemaps can tank a site on the SERPs. Misconfigured Web servers and IIS flaws can result in lost rankings. Outdated SEO tactics usually remove a Web site from the search index. Following free but also bad advice from suspected sources prevents niggardly site owners from free search engine traffic. And so on, and so on, the list of methods to stay ignored by Google and its competitors is endless.

Looking at all causes, there is a lowest common denominator: miserable Site owner/SEO/Webmaster failure. Yes, even choosing the wrong Web hosting service or the wrong CMS, or not hiring a SEO consultant or at least an experienced Webmaster with outstanding SEO skills from the beginning, are unprofessional mistakes. Self-SEO is an artifact from the stone age of the Internet, it doesn't work anymore, alas.

If you're keen on organic search engine traffic, you must play by the rules. Thanks to search engine spammers, most of those rules are unwritten. That's why you need to hire search engine experts. In an ideal world, common sense and honesty would do the trick. We don't live in an ideal world. Unfortunately, in the search engine game there is way too much money involved. Nowadays even non-profit organizations and mom and pop sites rely on paid professional expertise when it comes to search engine placements. Doing things right from an ethical POV is not enough to gain top spots on the organic search engine result pages (SERPs), nowadays search engine expertise is the only way to achieve reasonable and fair search engine placements.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Can I remove deleted pages in Google's index via XML Sitemap?Next Page

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Author: Sebastian
Last Update: Friday, October 28, 2005 [DRAFT]   Web Feed

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