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Why is A Sitemap Important To SEO?


Many people make the mistake of overlooking the sitemaps for their website, often the way of thinking is that the site already contains a very good navigation menu. Why bother to add a sitemap too? When search engine spiders land on a website, they go through all of the links they can find. If these are in one place it makes the indexing process much faster. If not, sub-pages with relevant content can be missed and that can adversely affect the ranking of the website. It`s a good practice to have a link to an HTML sitemap of each page of the website while an XML sitemap can be submitted directly to search engines.

So why exactly are sitemaps so important? Well, to understand that you have to know what happens when a new site is made active. Search engines have to keep their listings up to date or else people will stop using them and they`ll lose ads revenue. In order to do this they send out a bunch of search engine spiders. No, these aren`t real arachnids. They`re essentially programs which go to a page on the website and follow the links found there to determine what the site`s about, what the keywords are and, most of all, how relevant the content is. That`s where the sitemap comes in.

Search engine spiders don`t always land on the homepage, but this isn`t really a problem since they will follow all the links they come across anyways. The problem is that all the main pages of a site are often connected to each other via the navigation menu, but each page may have a lot of links leading to individual sub-pages. This may go down the line any number of times to create a very complex navigational structure. Simply put, the homepage doesn`t lead to every page on the site because no one wants to make their landing page confusing.

What does this mean for the poor search engine spider? Let`s visualise it. Let`s say that you were doing a census. Now instead of having a straight road to travel where you could stop at every house, you`ve got lanes and cross lanes and back alleys. So you`ve got to go down one street and come all the way back before going down another street. It`s the same concept. It can take a very long time for the search engine spider to make it from one of the main pages all the way down to the sub-pages. This can not only delay the indexing of the site but it can also lead to some pages being ignored altogether.

You can see how this can be a problem from an SEO perspective. Everyone wants their site to be ranked well as this will affect the search engine placement. The page rank in turn is affected by the quality of the content and the number of links coming into the site. If pages which are relevant to this are not even indexed and made available to the public then your page rank could suffer, and that can have some adverse effects on the site traffic. That`s why sitemaps are so important. They represent a way of having all of your links in one place so the search engine spider can easily find its way around.

There are two types of sitemaps, HTML and XML, and it`s best to include both of these as part of the website. Click here to create Google XML Sitemap, text formatted sitemap and HTML sitemap for human visitors.

XML Sitemaps:

This next generation of sitemaps allows you to submit your links straight to the search engines without having to wait for one to be generated by the search engine spider. It only takes a few seconds to produce and there are many sites online which offer the service for free.

HTML Sitemaps:

These are just like any other web page in that they are comprised of simple HTML code. It`s a standard practise to have one of these included in the footer on each page of the site. That way it can easily be found by the search engine spider, and can be accessed no matter which page the spider is on.

Generating an HTML sitemap is simple but there are some tips that you should follow to make sure that it is easy to use.

  • Keep it simple. There`s no need to flashy animations or dynamic content as part of a sitemap. Remember that your visitors will access the sitemap for a very specific reason; they want to know where to go next. Making them work for that information is likely to do nothing but turn them off.

  • Don`t be too creative with the title. It`s a sitemap. Let`s call it ‘site map`. That way everyone will know exactly what it is and where to find it.

  • A sitemap is a good way to get some extra keywords in but, as with every other aspect of web design, don`t overdo it.

Having a good sitemap will ensure that your website is properly indexed and that none of the content is inadvertently missed. That`s why it`s essential to include a sitemap as part of your website.

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