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My Advice on Google Sitemaps: Don't Take Rand's Advice

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I feel compelled to begin with a little disclaimer: in no way was today’s blogging activity here at PPM orchestrated to be a pick on Rand day. We openly praise and discuss much of Rand’s work here at the office and we are very much fans of SEOMoz.

With that said…

Today I was reading an interesting post over at SEOMoz in which Rand put forth the idea that perhaps submitting a Google sitemap could be detrimental as it may cause pages to be indexed which are unworthy of inclusion in the index (Google SpamMaps?) . The main point that I got from the post was that non-inclusion served as a pass/fail metric to indicate the strength of a given page.

I have a couple of problems with Rand’s position. Firstly I can state with a good deal of certainty that inclusion in a Google sitemap does not equal inclusion in Google’s index. I have experienced this first-hand and I’m quite certain that Google is still evaluating index worthiness of individual pages, even those crawled via sitemap.

Lastly (and most disappointingly), is the matter of relying on non-inclusion as a metric to determine a page’s index-worthiness. If SEO’s don’t have an independent grasp on determining whether or not a page should/will be indexed; then I think that is a big problem.

According to the post, non-inclusion is a good indicator of poor importance (“link juice”) and/or poor content. By submitting a sitemap one may cause these factors to be overlooked by the search engine. Again I can’t escape from the fact that if you need Google’s refusal of your work to let you know that it is no good, then perhaps it’s time to upgrade one’s skill-set.

The ability to simulate and analyze optimal link structures and site architecture is a fundamental SEO skill. A keen eye for sound, relevant content is at the top of the list as well, and these are just the basics.

I am a dedicated SEOMoz reader and I have great respect for Rand who frequently demonstrates great SEO acumen and experience. I do however think that maybe he ran with this one a little too quickly.


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Max Speed

If the Pole Position Marketing team had a muse—and it does—it would be Max Speed. We love Max’s occasionally off-color, usually amusing and always pointed “Maxisms.” (Maybe “Maxims” would be a better word.) Max gives voice to some of the things we think but, bound by professional decorum, aren’t permitted to say. At least, not out loud. Read Max's full bio.

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