Tuesday: Shape Up Your Site Map
Last month, we suggested creating a site map to help search engine robots navigate
your site. If your website doesn’t have a site map, today you’ll consider creating one. If
you already have one, you’ll optimize it today.
Why Build a Site Map?
We think that just about every website can benefit from a site map, especially websites
that contain more than 10 pages. Most people know that site maps are good for the
user experience: they orient your site visitors and help lost visitors find their way to the
right page. But there’s even more benefit when you consider SEO. A site map can
improve the search engine visibility of your website in several ways:
• By providing search engine robots with links to navigate through your site
• By pointing search engine robots to dynamic or hard-to-reach pages that might
not be accessible otherwise
• By acting as a possible landing page, optimized for search traffic
• By providing ready-to-use content for the File Not Found page where visitors are
automatically taken if they try to go to a nonexistent URL within your domain
If your site is small enough that links to every page are included in your
(navigation provided on every page of your site) or absolutely every page on
your site is available within two clicks from the home page, then you may not need a
site map. But if your site is larger, and especially if it contains pages that may be hard
for search engine robots to find, we highly recommend a site map.
Site Map Design 101
Simply put, a site map is a page that links to every page on your website. If you’re like
many web surfers, you visit a site map as a last resort when you can’t find what you
need or if there’s no in-site search function. You’re happy to forget it as soon as you
leave it. But if a robot visits your site map, it’s not going to forget what it saw, and it
will be pleased as punch to come back on a regular basis. Here are a few pointers for
treating both robots and human users well:
Include the most important pages.
People will get lost if your site map contains too
many links. That means, if your site has more than, say, 100 pages, you’ll need to
Perform your spider emulator check for all of your landing pages. Make a note of any problems and
suggested solutions in your Task Journal.
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