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Anatomy of a Good Sitemap

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A sitemap is an aid used in making navigation through a website easier. It contains the structure of the website along with the included links to the major parts and subsections of the website.

A website’s sitemap has a practical and essential use. It makes it easier for visitors to visit through and navigate the website. The navigational help ensures that they do not get lost and that they will not have to look futilely for the information or page that they need. A visitor who immediately finds the information that he needs quickly in a website has a higher chance of coming back for another visit.

Many website administrators, designers and webmasters do not fully exploit the uses and benefits of having a good sitemap. For most of them, merely providing a list of links that do not really give a good service to visitors to the website is more than adequate. For them, as long as spiders can find the pages in their website then they are content. But wouldn’t it better if you can design a sitemap page that is not only big help to your visitors but also adds value to your website?

The characteristic of a good sitemap is that each link has an accompanying description about the target page for each link. This helps visitors who go to your site and would rely on it in navigating through your webpages.

Let’s look at two examples:

Example 1: Link with no description

Rock music

Example 2: Link with description

Rock music, the history of British rock music, From the Beatles to the Rolling Stones, David Bowie, Duran Duran, U2, The best British bands and rock acts in history. Trace how rock music in Britain evolved.

There is a definite difference between these two examples. From a mere cursory look at the two examples it is obviously apparent that the second example is far more effective in giving the proper information to visitors. Website visitors are more likely to appreciate the kind of listing illustrated in Example No. 2. This is because most people are more at home with a search engine style listing because it is easier to navigate. No one would like to visit a website and see a sitemap presented similarly to the first example because there is a complete lack of information.

There is also an added benefit to making a descriptive sitemap. It helps in raising your search engine ranking.

By building your sitemap in such a way that you put all the links to related pages on each sitemap page, you are making, in effect, a themed sitemap page. Let us say that you have 7 pages that all relate to British rock music, by putting it all together you make a British rock music themepage. This kind of page will have the element a search engine considers is essential for a high ranking web page: keyword rich text.

It pays to make a good sitemap. Making a conscious effort to make one will bring great benefits to your website.

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You can create this file in the ROR sitemap generator.

XML-Sitemaps.com has an online sitemap generator that creates XML, HTML, text and ROR sitemaps and also provides some useful SEO tools.

Anatomy of a Good Sitemap
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