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
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.
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.
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.