sitemap

What are Sitemaps and How Do They Help

What’s all the buzz about sitemaps?

Sitemaps are an integral part of your website that plays a very important role in your website’s ranking on popular search engines such as Google or Bing. Without a sitemap, your website that may not be discovered by the search engines your clients and potential clients use everyday.

What Are Sitemaps?

sitemapsA sitemap is a list of website pages  accessible to crawlers or users to help them navigate the site and locate information that may otherwise be hidden within the pages. There are two types of sitemaps that can be created by webmasters to serve as this “site guide” used by search engines.

HTML Sitemap

An HTML sitemap allows your website visitors to easily navigate a website. Typically tt is created as a bullet list version of the site’s navigation. Each list option bulleted in the outline is linked to the page it refers to. Site visitors can go to the sitemap, generally found at the bottom of a website, to locate a topic they are unable to find by searching the site or navigating through the site menus.

XML Sitemap

This type of sitemap is created in a format that is less easy for users to navigate, but when submitted to search engines, they can crawl the website in a more effective manner. With a sitemap, search engines become aware of every page on the site, including any URLs that might not be discovered through the normal crawling process used by the engine.

A good place to easily create an XML Sitemap is – http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
They are also a great reference point for finding more information on sitemaps and how to create and use them properly.

An example of an XML Sitemap can be found here.

If you are knowledgeable about HTML and your website is built on the WordPress Platform, you can easily create an HTML sitemap on your own by creating a new page and using the page editor options to list and link the pages within your website.

Creating a XML Sitemap file for your website is considered best SEO practice and can be easily achieved on a WordPress website by using a plugin created by arnee called Google XML Sitemaps. At ZeroZen Design, we create a sitemap for ALL of our new websites using this plugin. Many of the websites we have designed are ranked on the 1st page of Google for powerful keywords relevant to our client’s business.

With this plugin, you can assign priorities to pages in the sitemap, submit your sitemap to the major search engines, and even assign re-submission intervals. The sitemap plugin also  auto-updates every time a new post is published, so you don’t have to do it manually. It’s a kick ass plugin and highly recommended for WordPress users.

There are several important reasons that you should be using a XML Sitemap on your website:

* Your website uses AJAX, is image intensive or your content is not easily discoverable by the search engines.

* Your website hosts dynamic content and your URL’s have all kinds of funky characters or use session ID’s in them.

* Your website is brand new and has very little in the way of links from other websites pointing to it.

* Your website has lots of orphaned pages within it that are not linked to internally from your home page or other sub pages inside of your website.

Conclusion

HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps act as a guidebook for users and robots searching your website. Always create an XML sitemap for your website to ensure proper ranking of your website on popular search engines. If your website has many pages and all of them are not easy to find, create an HTML sitemap as a guide for your visitors so they have a pleasant user experience.

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