It allows us to inform the search engines about urls on a website that are available for crawling. Sitemap is an XML file that consists of lists the URLs for a particular site. It gives us the flexibility to add other information like when was the page last updated or how often it changes and what is its importance in relation to other pages on the site.
Now Google, MSN, Yahoo, and Ask are using the same sitemap protocol. All that it does is help you to get your sites crawled better and include the URL’s into the search engine index.
When you submit your sitemap to google it does allows you to specify the URL to use when indexing your site. Like with www. or without www.
You can even view all the links that the bots have encountered while crawling the internet and are pointing towards your site. The link: command does shows links but it doesn’t shows them all. So this can also be useful in tracking or keeping a watch on your link building campaign.
If there are errors while crawling your site they will also be displayed. You can also set the crawling rate of your site in some cases where ever required.
The main benefit I have got from the sitemap submission is to get my blogs and forums crawled faster and much better then before.
To generate sitemap for your site you can use any free sitemap generating tool or even a paid one if you can afford it to generate the sitemap of your site. You can use your existing google webmaster account to add the sitemap to it or if you don’t have one then you can create a new account and submit your sitemap to it. You might need to verify the ownership of the site though. The instructions are provided within the sitemap panel itself.
If you are using a readymade CMS then search for a plugin or a module to generate the sitemap. Many CMS are offering this functionality nowadays.