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December 26, 2007

Creating a Sitemap for SEO

A sitemap is a useful tool for a web site in that it allows visitors to your site to understand the navigation of your site and plan their destination pages. It also enables you to showcase all of the items and topics on offer on your web site.

Surfers across the internet will search for sites with useful and related information. If these surfers are happy with the site and are able to navigate the site in a way that the information is easily available, they will no doubt re-visit the site for further updates or information from time to time. This makes a sitemap a valuable and integral asset for your online business.

Here are some tips to help you make your site map functional and user-friendly, and of course, enable visitors to find information on your web site with ease and comfort.

  • Ensure your sitemap is in a simple form without complicated graphics and detail – keep it simple
  • Name the page ‘sitemap’ so that visitors to your site know exactly where to go to find the information. Otherwise you’ll find the whole reason for having a sitemap in the first place has lost its objective
  • Do not use dynamic site maps. Again, keep it simple so that visitors to your site can link to the information they need with one simple click of a mouse
  • If your sitemap is made up of text links, utilise the ‘title’ tag of the link by entering relevant keywords into it
  • It would be beneficial to add a description of the page contents below or next to each particular link
  • Your sitemap should be a tool or resource to complement your web site and certainly should not be used as the only navigational tool for visitors to find their way around the site
  • There should be a visible link to the sitemap on all pages of the web site. It could be an option in the main navigational area, or an additional link at the bottom of each page, but it should be clearly visible so that users can click directly onto it to help them further navigate your web site
  • You could further make your sitemap user friendly by ensuring that visited links are a different colour to fresh links, and perhaps even a separate colour for links that are hovered over. This will save the visitor from having to revisit pages they may already have landed on during their navigation of your site.

As well as the obvious benefits to visitors to your site, a sitemap also serves an important purpose for spiders and robots of search engines. You should, as a web developer, be thinking about how to get exposure for all of the pages of your web site on the internet. Through search engines, each of the pages of your site will be picked up via the links on the sitemap. If you manually submit no other page to search engines, the sitemap is the one page that should definitely be submitted. Through the links on your sitemap, each of the pages on your web site will be indexed by the various search engines.

There are two important questions to consider when planning your sitemap:

  1. Are each of the pages on your site designed effectively; and do they carry a continual theme throughout the site?
  2. Will the web site appear as though it was thoroughly planned, rather than lots of ad-hoc additional pages? If you draw up your sitemap before even attempting to plan and create the whole of your web site, you will be able to decide on the design and content based on the pages and links you have decided upon within the sitemap.

Here are five essential pointers that will help you to create an effective sitemap:

Sitemap must-have #1

Ensure your logo always carries a hyperlink to the homepage or index page of your web site

Sitemap must-have #2

You should place a link to the sitemap either at the top of the page or on the upper left section under the header so that it is clearly visible to visitors to your site.

Sitemap must-have #3

The sitemap link should be placed in the same section on every single page of your web site. That is to say, do not place it on the top right on one page then the top left on the other. It needs to be easily identifiable and recognised as a link to a sitemap. It is there for convenience and ease of navigation after all, and your visitors shouldn’t have to search for the item that’s deliberately there to help them.

Sitemap must-have #4

There should always be a clear and visible link back to the homepage or index page of the web site. This could be in the form of a logo. You should also include a ‘contact us’ link and a further link for users to go to the ‘about this site’ page.

Sitemap must-have #5

The most important rule for a successful sitemap is that it should allow visitors to navigate to their desired section in as little mouse clicks as possible. A well-structured sitemap will give visitors to your site the opportunity to find information quickly and conveniently, without having to browse several pages or lines of text before finding the relevant topic.

Author:  Jeff Spires – For FREE killer secrets, tips & tricks on how to Generate even more leads. Go to:Free Downloadable Marketing Ebooks. Download 8 bonus Ebooks for FREE, Instant access.