Google Sitemaps: Big Boon or Big Brother?

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The Google Sitemap is a powerful new tool for understanding – and potentially improving – your organic search engine rankings. But search engine marketing leader, VKI Studios, cautions that sponsored results may become much more expensive. And the potential for abuse is alarming.

To be effective, search engines such as Google must always index the most recent information. Until now, Google has relied on small programs (spiders or robots) to scan and index every page they can find, and to do so repeatedly to check for updates. With the exponential growth of web pages, the inefficiency of this system grows more and more apparent. Part of Google’s solution is the Google Sitemap, which allows webmasters to play an active role in the indexing of their sites.

To Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) companies, Google Sitemaps are a two-edged sword. As Darcy Foster, President of SEM/SEO and website usability heavyweight, VKI Studios explains, “It’s great that we no longer have to wait passively, just hoping the Google bots pick up our clients’ sites, index them properly, and stay on top of the latest revisions. It’s also great to gain further insight into how Google perceives our clients’ sites. But we’re concerned about what Google could potentially do with all this new information, and how it could be used against our clients.”

The advantages of Google Sitemaps

1.    They give you a degree of control. For the first time, you can tell Google:

a)    Where your pages are located (their URLs)

b)    The relative priority of your pages (i.e. which are most important)

c)    When your pages were last modified

d)    How often your pages are updated

2.    They tell you how Google sees your website, for example:

a)    Which pages Google had trouble indexing

b)    Which search terms were most effective in sending you traffic

c)    How Google views your keyword density, both on your pages and in links directed at your site

d)    Full reporting on which pages have been indexed and when they were last indexed

e)    Whether you’ve violated any of Google’s guidelines (allowing you to request re-inclusion once you’re in compliance)

f)    Google will tell you whether your robots.txt file is set up properly

3.    They’re free and easy to set up. Simply:

a)    Create a Google account

b)    Sign into Google sitemaps from your account

c)    Create a sitemap (in an acceptable format)

d)    Add the sitemap to your account

e)    Update your sitemap regularly

The potential pitfalls of Google Sitemaps

With all the advantages outlined above, it’s hard not to recommend implementation of Google sitemaps to Search Engine Marketing and Search Engine Optimization clients. However, it’s important understand the risks.

1.    Great for organic results, costly for sponsored results

Google can and will use the information you provide them to refine their Pay Per Click (PPC) strategy and to determine your minimum PPC bid price. In other words, they can use all this additional information against you.

The more Google knows about the financial details of your business, the better equipped they are to charge the highest possible price for each lead they give you. So while Google Sitemaps are wonderful for understanding – and potentially improving – your organic search engine rankings, they could be costly to PPC marketers.

2. The unknown: how else will Google use this information?

If you have a Google toolbar on your computer, Google already logs every web page you visit. If you have a gmail account, Google already logs every email conversation you have. Now with Google sitemaps, Google can monitor your PPC strategies and track everything your customers do when they’re on your site. Where does it end?

It’s truly frightening to contemplate what Google could do with all this sensitive data. Though many business owners simply decide to trust Google, we believe the capability of abuse is reason for concern.

Contact Information:

Darcy Foster, President

VKI Studios Inc


Released by VKI Studios – Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Web Usability


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