SEO people, and web site builders frequently state that sitemaps are an important part of helping search-engine spiders find all your public content which isn't linked to from other pages on your site- especially things like landing pages, or split tested versions of a page.
It just seems to me that if WordPress aims to provide the most ideal platform for publishing on the web that this would be important, and a simple basic addition to general site settings.
Check this out:
A site map provides an organized list of links to all the pages on your Web site. If visitors get lost while browsing your site, they can always refer to your site map to see where they are and get where they would like to go. Site maps allow your visitors to navigate your Web site with ease.
When visitors access your site map, they will learn a lot about your Web site within a very short period of time. A well constructed site map will allow visitors to easily and efficiently grasp the “big picture” of your site.
3) Search Engine Optimization
Since a site map is a single page that contains links to every page on your Web site, it is a very effective way to help search engine spiders crawl through your site with ease (see Helping Spiders Crawl through your Web Site). Since search engines rely on links to find the main pages of your site, a site map is a great way to get every page on your site indexed by the search engines. The more pages you have indexed by the search engines, the more potential you will have to reach a greater number of prospective clients.
A site map enables you to easily assess the structure of your site to see where your site is strong and where it is weak. Whenever you need to add new content or new sections to your Web site, you will be able to take the existing hierarchy into consideration by glancing at your site map.
Doesn't that seem like something that might be beneficial to most WordPress users as a standard option? What trouble is it to put a check-box to enable or disable a sitemap matching your public content?
Even google itself "highly recommends" that you use a sitemap. Here's a video on it from Google: http://youtu.be/Gl3fyqJ6whY "These are especially useful for sites that feature dynamic, or a large and updated set of new and updated pages..." sounds exactly like WordPress blog sites to me.
Is there any risk to WordPress to implement this functionality? Not that I'm aware of. But is there a reward? Yeah, it will be easier for search-engines to find their users' site's content.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but what do you think?
Here's another page, again by Google which mentions that
You can create a Sitemap based on the Sitemap protocol, or you can submit a text file or RSS/Atom feed as a Sitemap. How to create a Sitemap.
Now I don't know if the built in WordPress feeds allow a full sitemap via RSS or not. Also I know that the inherent Jetpack plugin has "Enhanced Distribution" but the explanation for that is "Jetpack will automatically take the great published content from your blog or website and share it instantly with third party services like search engines, increasing your reach and traffic." What do they mean by great? Does that mean only really popular content or everything?
Jetpack apparently is just using the WP.com firehose.
Enhanced distribution allows your blog’s public content to be included in the WordPress.com firehose.
The firehose is a stream of the public data (public posts, comments, etc.) that flow through WordPress.com (and Jetpack blogs that participate in Enhanced Distribution). The firehose is used by companies and people who are interested in public blog content. When these firehose users display content from your blog, they are required to link back to your blog.
So seemingly, not directly submitting anything to search engines, but relying more on a back-linking type of thing.
--I only ask because there doesn't seem to be any information on wordpress.org about sitemap functionality being included, but perhaps it is via RSS. Can you tell me?
For a lot of bloggers, the blog is business related. That often means having things like landing pages, and split tested pages, which don't come as part of the basic WordPress. But for the people who have add them via one of the many plugins or manually, they are public pages (though not usually linked to from the sites main content) and it would be a huge benefit to have them seen and crawled by search engines. Side-note: Perhaps Google is not smart enough yet to differentiate between pages being split-tested vs. duplicate content; but if the need to differentiate between the two ever gets recognized, then split tested page versions would also be a great thing to have crawled.
I'll end my argument with a couple of quotes:
XML sitemap will not create any negative effect to your existing ranking. So, you have to go for XML Sitemap.
XML Sitemap can help you to measure total number of pages and existence of indexed pages. If your indexing value will go down so, you can drill down more to improve it.
One another thing, you can provide image information in your XML sitemap and that will help you to improve impression and clicks from Google image search.
And bigger picture is that, you'll never be small ... Your website will be big in future so, why should not start to follow standard practice of SEO to get maximum in future.
"Sitemaps are not a novelty. They have always been part of best Web design practices" ~http://moz.com