Don’t Pay for Google Sitemaps

$375 for a Google sitemap and a Yahoo! sitemap is an exorbitant price! Believe it or not, there are so called SEO companies ready to charge such a price and enough website owners who fall for the scam. This article explains why you should not pay for Google sitemaps.

SEO Scammers Approach Their Victims Via Email

Although unsolicited, we cannot consider the following email “spam.” The sender approaches the website owner individually, with a business proposition. The problem is not in the approach, but in the “offer.” The sender sells something the receiver can get for free.

A client received today an email with the following content:

As I was on http://www.webiste.com this morning, I was unable to locate a “Google Sitemap file” on your website.

I am not referring to a regular “site map” for people to visit online, but rather to a script which helps Google to read and index your website’s overall content. I advise you to visit us online where we explain clearly what a “Google Sitemap file” is and what you need to do to get one: http://scamsite.com/google_sitemap.html

A Sitemap file is a “code” placed in the root directory of your website which captures all the crucial information about your website, thus facilitating the crawling and indexing process for Google.

Give Google easier access to your site: Get a Google Sitemap file!

We offer a full turnkey service, including Google and Yahoo Sitemap files creation + registration. Visit us online for more details.

Regards,

Naturally, I visited the site linked in the content of the email and I finally landed on a page that featured the following prices:

Google Sitemap file = $250
Yahoo Sitemap file = $125
Google + Yahoo Sitemap files = $375

Note the screenshot below.

Google sitemap scam.

This is what I call SEO scam.

Free Google Sitemap Generators

My client was smart enough to ask why I haven’t developed a Google sitemap and if this was something he should worry about. Personally, although a Google sitemap cannot hurt, I do not recommend it for sites that are smaller than 100 pages, don’t have frequent updates and are already indexed for all their selling keywords in the top ten Google results.

I explained to my client that a Google sitemap, although it doesn’t hurt, it is not a “must have” for his site. I also advised him not to pay for a Google sitemap that he himself could create by visiting a site like http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ which offers for free all the sitemaps the email scammers want charge him for.

xml-sitemaps.com is free for sitemaps of up to 500 pages and offers for sites that need sitemaps larger than 500 pages an “Ulimited sitemap generator” that can be purchased for as low as 19,99 USD.

Other free Google sitemap generators:

http://www.sitemapdoc.com/
http://gsitecrawler.com/
http://www.neuroticweb.com/recursos/sitemap/

Other sitemap generators just “pretend to be free” – they require you to add a link back on your site or request that you place a script on your pages. Don’t use these tools: avoid giving link juice to sites unrelated to yours and most importantly avoid adding scripts that could be used by these entities to infect your site with malware.

Why Not to Pay for Google Sitemaps

To call a scammer by his name, there is something wrong in this equation – note my comments in purple, bold.

Google Sitemap file = $250 – for sites under 500 pages, this can be created free at http://www.sitemapdoc.com/ for example

Yahoo Sitemap file = $125 – Google, Yahoo! and MSN use the same sitemap protocol

Google + Yahoo Sitemap files = $375 – you don’t need two separate sitemap files.

Both Yahoo! and Google provide clear information for webmasters as to what steps are needed to submit a sitemap to Search Engines.

Visit Yahoo! Business http://help.yahoo.com/l/us/yahoo/smallbusiness/store/promote/sitemap/sitemap-06.html to learn how to submit to both Google and Yahoo!

Google provides clear information about which types of sitemap formats are supported by Google:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34575

and how to submit a sitemap:

http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=34575

In my experience, it takes less than an hour to create and submit a sitemap to both engines. Less savvy webmasters might need more time, but the procedure is simple, especially after reading all Google instructions, which are very clear.

To help MSN and other search engines find your sitemap, simply add this line to your robots.txt file: Sitemap: http://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml

I hope the information above will safeguard you against paying hundreds of dollars to so called SEO companies that are ready to bill you for things you can really do yourself. Also, remember that if your site is built correctly and indexed in the top ten results of Google’s SERPs, you don’t need a Google sitemap.

Other articles you might find useful:

Read Rand’s advice on Google sitemaps for more details on this topic.

Self hosted WordPress users can use this plugin http://www.arnebrachhold.de/projects/wordpress-plugins/google-xml-sitemaps-generator/ to generate Google sitemaps for their blogs. WordPress.com users can add to Google sitemaps in other supported formats (see Google links above) as described here.

Blogger.com users can add a sitemap to their blogger blogs by following these steps.

Dave Weiss advises how to create Google sitemaps for TypePad.

Comments

  1. God, these people would really stop at nothing in trying to rip others off! Glad you’ve exposed them! Hopefully, people who receive these emails know how to run a few searches and can find out it is a scam. But how many newbies get trapped in such schemes?

    Alina Popescu’s last blog post..PC Magazine Goes Fully Digital

  2. That was my fear too, Alina – thus the entry today. I am glad that my client asked before wasting his money. I also offered to do a sitemap for free if he really wants to have one.

  3. I’ve been following one security site that has criticized our President elect’s website for having Google sitemaps on it. The authorities on it claim that a website can be easily hacked due to Google’s sitemaps. As if that isn’t enough damage, it also claimed that personal email addresses of all users being hosted with the agency can and will be cracked and hacked due to Google’s sitemaps. I found the information extremely alarming insomuch that I’ve been discouraging other website owners from using it.

    I’ll recheck the online security website and return with the post I read and get back to you.

    ^5!

  4. This is the article I shared about in my previous comment.

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/11/22/google_analytics_as_security_risk/

  5. Yes, Ma. But it is not the Google sitemap that causes the risk, but the Google analytics script. As I already said: foreign scripts should be avoided – this included and it is not limited at – statcounter scripts and others.

  6. Wait…. the Google Analytics script can be a backdoor for someone hacking your website? Are you sure about this? Or did I read that wrong.

    Till then,

    Jean

  7. Wow thanks for this info… I am in the process of getting my site up on Google News and Google advised me to get a sitemap… great that I came along your website and this article… really great info! Bookmarked your website for future reading!

    NewsGuy’s last blog post..Obama-Blagojevich Ties Probed

  8. Good Post! I agree your thought. But my thought is sitemap for free if he really wants to have one better for paying money to sitemap.thank for your post.

  9. Thanks for the info. I’m not aware that that there is a service like that. I thought it’s free.

    Lito’s last blog post..Water Powered Car

  10. @Jean – I am absolutely sure, Jean. Any script can be used as a back door for hacking and spreading malware.

  11. I am glad this information helped you, NewsGuy.

    @Rob Lee – they will not do a better sitemap than the free software, Rob. They use the same thing actually. The Google sitemap protocol is “universal” – it’s the same for yahoo and msn. Check out the links in the post.

  12. Its too bad you have to worry about things like this. If these individuals would channel that talent elsewhere, they’d make more money in the long run and not have to worry about going to jail!

    Charles’s last blog post..Mira Villa going Forward

  13. I had not come across these extortionate prices for sitemap creation – a job that takes only around 15 minutes in total if I remember rightly including waiting for the generating tools to create the necessary code.

    Do you know if any commonly used scripts on websites and blogs are more commonly a target of attack?

    Sueblimely’s last blog post..Blogging Christmas Challenge

  14. Hi Mig! =)

    I just finished creating some 135 sitemaps. Actually its one massive sitemap just broken up over 135 files. All it took is some reading and about a days worth of work to setup and create the first sitemap and test it. Then I just repeated it 135 times =). It was actually pretty simple, just a bit time consuming, but I do have about 6m urls. =/ But I don’t think this is the case for most sites with under 10,000 urls. You should be able to do it all in one sitting no problem. There are even free programs that will crawl your site and generate the sitemap for you. Assuming you have solid linking in your site. Dynamic links are the big reason to create a sitemap and in that case you’d probably have to do it manually.

    Anyway, paying for something like this really doesnt make much sense. First off, you should save the money. But more so, its good experience. Its very important to understand how a sitemap works, why se’s like them and all that.

    So don’t pay, because it really is not very hard. And, also you might learn something along the way.

    Good catch btw! Its crazy what people will charge for!

  15. Another thing… sorry, I just remembered. Creating a sitemap should also help you identify duplciate content on your site. This is a huge problem for blogs, such as this one, but also for any site which run the risk of having internal duplicate content.

    When creating a sitemap, try and look for different url’s that point to the same page/content. Understanding and visualizing your site structure is very important. And if you find that you do have this problem, solve it soon with redirects. Otherwise your SERP’s might get killed and your blog or site, might end up in supplemental because of a simple problem.

    Anyway, sitemaps are great!! I learned alot from them! =)

  16. Thanks for the link, Mihaela.

    As with most things like this these days, the information is out there and freely available on the internet. I don’t blame companies for trying to monetize the service. Often, people who buy services like this do so because they don’t feel like they have the ability or time to do it themselves.

    If the core focus of my career was not internet marketing and technology, I could see needing someone to do these things for me.

    With that said, I do think the Google + Yahoo offer is silly. One sitemap does it all.

    Dave Weiss’s last blog post..How To Create a Tiled Background Image

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