The other element you see on nearly every page is text-based links within the content of the page.
Again, those links are usually created with anchor tags that include the keywords the site is using
to build site ranking. This is an effective way to gain site ranking. The crawler comes into the site,
examines the linking system, examines the content of the page, compares these items, and finds
that the links are relevant to the content, which is relevant to the keywords. That’s how your rank-
ing is determined. Every element works together.
Take the time to design a navigational structure that’s not only comfortable for your users, but is also
crawler-friendly. If it can’t always be perfect for the crawlers, make sure it’s perfect for users. Again,
SEO is influenced by many different things, but return visits from users are the ultimate goal. This
may mean that you have to test your site structure and navigation with a user group and change it
a few times before you find a method that works both for returning users and for the crawlers that
help to bring you new users. Do those tests. That’s the only way you’ll learn what works.
It’s not always possible to please both your site users and the crawlers that determine your page
ranking. It is possible, however, to work around problems. Of course, the needs of users come first
because once you get them to your site you want them to come back. On the Internet, it’s extremely
easy for users to surf away from your site and never look back. And returning visits can make or
break your site.
But the catch is that in order to build returning visitors, you have to build new visitors, which is the
purpose of SEO. That means you need search engines to take notice of your site.
When it seems that users’ preferences are contrary to crawlers’ preferences, there is a solution.
It’s a site map. And there are two types of which you should be aware. A basic site map is an
overview of the navigational structure of your web site. It’s usually text-based, and it’s nothing
more than an overview that includes links to all of the pages in your web site. Crawlers love site
maps. You should, too.
A site map allows you to outline the navigational structure of your web site, down to the second or
third level of depth, using text-based links that should include anchors and keywords. An example
of a site map for the
web site is shown in Figure 3-5.
When a site map exists on your web page, a search engine crawler can locate the map and then
crawl all of the pages that are linked from it. All of those pages are then included in the search
engine index and will appear on search engine results pages. Where they appear on those SERPs
is determined by how well the SEO is done for each individual page.
A second type of site map, the XML site map, is different from what you think of as a site map in
both form and function. An XML site map is a file that lists all of the URLs for a web site. This file
is usually not seen by site visitors, only by the crawlers that index your site. There are more specifics
on XML site maps in Chapter 16.
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