There are certain fundamental elements every website should have, and one of these is a site map. They are an invaluable addition to any website, both in terms of audience readership, and in terms of making your website more readable to search engines. This article will detail why your site needs a site map.
It may seem like an odd place to start, but many web designers ask their clients for a site map in the first instance. This allows them to get a feel for how big the site will be, and subsequently, what kind of layout each page of the site will have. See out articles on navigation for clarification on this.
If you think of the site map as a blueprint for the site’s structure, then you are well on the way to making a good site map, and one that will aid navigation for both human, and search engine visitors.
Websites exist to provide information to visitors. They are only in rare instances designed as a creative outlet for web designers, and normally, all the visitors to a site have one thing in common. They want to find information quickly and easily. Should this not be the case, then any visitor will quickly be pressing the back button, or trying a different site to obtain what he or she wants. If you think of your visitor as fickle, then you are getting the idea. A site map shows the sites structure, and subsequently where all the information can be found. A visitor can quickly navigate to it, providing your site has a site map in the first place.
Let us now look at search engines. This is another significant reason, as to why your site needs a site map. They are easily searched by search engines, if you submit the sitemap to be indexed by the search engine, obscure, buried pages, are more likely to be found. Remember that some search engines will not drill right down into a site, so by having a sitemap indexed by a search engine avoids obscure pages being lost.
It is the responsibility of the web designer, or design team, to get a site pushed high on the Google rankings, and to get as many public pages indexed by a search engine as possible. The site map takes care of this aspect, as all the pages are indexed at once, and therefore, the job is done.
It is not unknown for a site map to rank higher after a keyword search, than the page that has been optimised for that keyword. This shows how effective a site map can be to making a site more searchable.
There is an additional benefit to the visitor in that should a site utilise java for drop down menus, and that visitor has java switched off, the site map will at least show the visitor the whole site. Thus making it navigation possible. This is essential as you well know.
It also comes into play where navigation of large sites is concerned. Hundreds of pages are hard to search for a single item, and quite frankly it is no fun to do. It is far simpler and easier with a site map. These are just some of the reasons as to why your site needs a site map.
So to recap what we have said here, your site map is the starting point for your web design, as it is effectively a blueprint for the whole site structure. Every page and its content will be listed here, and so the big picture will take form.
It is indispensable for the human visitor, as it shows quickly and easily where information is and brings it within a mouse click to the visitor. The importance of this cannot be overstated, to retain visitors, and generate traffic. It also provides possible navigation on large websites, or those that utilise java, where the user has it switched off.
And lastly, but not least, your website needs a site map as it makes it far easier to be searched and to get pages indexed by search engines. Google recommends in its Webmaster guidelines, that all sites have a sitemap.