You can find more information about links and linking in Chapter 11.
Your site map not only makes it easier for crawlers to index every page of your site, but it also makes
it easier for users to find their way around in it. Ideally, users will never have to rely on the site map;
however, it’s nice for it to be there in the event that they either need it or simply want to click directly
to the page they’re seeking.
How you design your site map is a matter of preference. Some organizations create site maps that
only include the top two levels of pages. Others include ones that go three levels down or deeper.
Whatever level of depth you think will be required by the majority of users is how deep your site
map should go. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that site maps can become just as over-
whelming as any other navigational structure if there are hundreds of pages in your site.
Design your site map so it’s easy to decipher and will take users to the pages they are seeking with-
out difficulty and confusion.
User experience is a little harder to quantify than other site-ranking elements. It’s easy to say that
users will find your site simple to use, that they will find the information or products that they’re
seeking, or that they will have reason to return to your site. But in practice, that’s a little more diffi-
cult to achieve.
So, how in the world can a site gain search engine ranking by user experience? It’s fairly simple
really. Search engines today are smarter than they have ever been. They may not be able to make
you a grilled cheese sandwich, but they can certainly keep track of what results users click when
they run a search. Those result selections are essential to adding to the organic ranking of your site.
Here’s a scenario. Say you search for something like health-insurance information. When the search
results come up, how are you going to choose which results to look at? Most users read the small
descriptive lines that are included with the search engine ranking and select from those.
In most cases, the sites that are visited are those sites that are highest in the rankings. But search
engines also monitor which sites are actually clicked on, so let’s say you search through the results
and click a link on the fifth page. And suppose several other people do so as well.
That link on the fifth page is going to show more traffic than links that are higher in the results, so
smart search engines will move that page higher in the rankings. It may not jump right up to the num-
ber one position, but it’
s entirely possible for the site to move from the fifth page of rankings to the sec-
ond or third. This is part of the equation used when user experience is taken into consideration.
Another part of that experience might be how quickly the user jumps back to the search page. Maybe
when you click that link on the fifth page, you can tell when you hit the site that it’s not the page you
were looking for (or doesn’t contain the information or product that you were looking for). You click
the back button, and you’re taken back to the page of search results.
Creating an SEO Plan
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