The Google SiteMap Generator for WordPress creates a specially formatted XML (Extensible Markup Language) file that contains a list of URL’s and metadata, (information) listing and describing the pages on your web site.
The SiteMap file tells the Search Engines about the structure and format of your site as well as the type of content and specific information about that content, think caption or card catalog data about each page, image, video, or document. This tells the Search Engine explicitly where to go on your site to catalog and index the pages. As the SiteMap file contains information about the frequency of updates (i.e. new posts and uploads) to your site, it helps the Search Engines determine the scheduling of Index Crawls of your site.
SiteMap submissions to Search Engines, specifically Google will always be beneficial and in no case will your site be penalized for the submission. Google, Bing, and Yahoo are the predominant users of the SiteMap.xml file but other Search Engines use them as well.
The format of the SiteMap.xml file is based on an agreed upon schema called “SiteMap 0.90” between Google, MSN, and Yahoo so one file works for all of the major Search Engines. (Read more at Wikipedia here.)
The easiest way to create this file is to use a Google SiteMap Generator for WordPress Plugin. JasonPalmer.com uses one plugin called “Google XML Sitemaps” presently at version 3.2.7, from Arne Branhhold but there are many to choose from all which accomplish essentially the same task. (If you are not using WordPress, there are a number of generic SiteMap XML Generator tools available, just search “sitemap.xml generator”.)
In most cases you can just accept the defaults of the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. You may want to adjust the “Frequencies” Section and specifically set how often various sections of your site are updated. In the case of JasonPalmer.com, the Homepage, Posts, Tags, and Current Archive pages change “Daily”, (as I post daily), but the Categories, Static Pages, and Author pages are at the default of “Weekly” as they change less frequently, if at all, on a regular basis.
The Google XML Sitemaps Plugin will automatically generate a new SiteMap.xml file and notify Google and Bing/Yahoo of any changes to the site so that the Search Engines can return to index new and updated pages. In addition, you can trigger a manual rebuild of the SiteMap.xml file and upload it manually using Google Webmaster Tools or Bing Webmaster Tools. (See my Post, “Google Webmaster Tools”.)
For More Information on the SiteMap.xml File and Protocol, visit Wikipedia:
The Google XML SiteMaps Plugin at WordPress.org:
The Google XML SiteMaps Plugin Official Web Site:
Google Webmaster Tools:
Bing/Yahoo Webmaster Tools: