To Sitemap or Not To Sitemap? That is the Question. Whether 'Tis Nobler... A Call for Evidence

Well established site.  Online for at least 10 years.

Many thousands of pages indexed highly in Google for key search terms

Never used sitemap.

What evidence is there for and against submitting an Sitemap?  The negative I have seen is that pages and places missed in site map, even well-linked ones, get cut out --> negative overall SEO impact.

What proof is there either way?

Thanks,

OT
oaktreesAsked:
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Mal OsborneAlpha GeekCommented:
As sitemap sometimes helps Google when links are not immediately obvious when browsed as a normal, external 'bot looking at HTML. With a sitemap, the 'bots immediately know where each page is linked, and can find them all with no hassle.

Generally, they don't actually do all that much; with most sites all pages you want indexed can easily be located eventually  just by a 'bot exhaustively following all links from the start page onwards.

A page not listed in a sitemap still gets indexed, as long as a link points to it somewhere. If there are NO links to a page, then a sitemap will mean it still gets indexed. This can be problematic if you just want to stop a page from being displayed just by removing all links to it.

WRT "Proof", that is, like many other things difficult to determine. Google's algorithms are secret. It can certainly be proven that a sitemap can cause a page to be indexed that would otherwise not be, but ranking is probably not affected overall. According to Google, a Sitemap will never cause a page to rank less well, but can improve rankings.  From what I have observed, it seems more about just helping Google find pages, with negligible effect on ranking.
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oaktreesAuthor Commented:
Excellent!  Thanks! :)))
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