Written by: Isha Sesay
A sitemap is as crucial to planning a new website as a map is to planning a road trip. Without it, both your trip and the user's journey through your website could encounter unplanned and potentially unpleasant stops. As the name implies, a sitemap is a visual representation of your website, aiding users on how to find information. As a vital tool for building a functional and usable website, a sitemap will take consumers where you want them to go instead of going around in circles and ultimately leaving your website in an act of frustration.
Along with a host of advantages, a sitemap is a fundamental feature of your website’s search engine optimisation (SEO) strategy. Assisting search engines in navigating a website, sitemaps are a good way of letting search engines know that your website is available and can be crawled by them. Therefore, if your website has a complicated structure, it is imperative that you revamp your sitemap to enhance optimisation and enable effective communication with the search engine.
So, whether you're building a website from scratch or planning an overhaul, a sitemap is essential. Building one isn't difficult, but you have to be methodical to get it done right. This blog post will take through some of the key features and advantages when implementing a sitemap into your website.
In this blog post, we will take a closer look at:
A sitemap that is constructed with clear goals could be the driving factor to a website's success, providing a vital link between your pages and search engine and nurturing the user experience which is vital to the website's conversion process. Sitemaps are not a novelty and have long since been part of best web design practices. However, with the adoption of sitemaps by search engines, they have now become even more important and it is even more vital to engineer them accurately.
A well-structured sitemap will make your website searchable by all search engines, offering users with more accurate search results when they are looking for keywords that are associated with the content you can provide. On the other hand, Robots (.txt) tells a search engine which part of the website to not include for indexing, and the web sitemap tells these search engines where you'd like them to go.
Think that these website site crawlers that are used by search engines depend on sitemaps to point them in the direction of the correct website that a user is searching for (WebConfs, 2018). We will discuss this topic further along in the blog.
Designing a new website can be a daunting process, only made more complicated by the volume of information that sometimes needs to be organised and incorporated into it. A sitemap can be an effective planning tool that can help organise and clarify the content that needs to be on your site as well eliminate any unnecessary pages. Moreover, a well-designed sitemap give a pleasant experience to visitors, leading to more conversions. In addition to the host of SEO tips and tricks that you employ to optimise your site, having an up to date sitemap could do more for your site than you think, so it is imperative to implement a well thought out and structured sitemap.
According to The UX Review, designing a sitemap before constructing the website can clarify your website’s goals and help you map them out. Every website should have a goal and a purpose and without these, sites can often be unfocused, hard to navigate, and present poor user experiences. The visitor is left wondering, “what am I supposed to be doing here?”
A sitemap can help you clarify what your site’s goals are before you start designing or creating content. By deciding exactly what you want from your pages and then mapping it out, you can ensure that every element is going to reinforce your goals. Then it’s possible to cut parts that aren’t directly tied to the pages purpose before they become an integral part of the site’s architecture.
2.2. A site without a specific goal or purpose is harder to navigate and ruin the user’s experience.
The visitor is left wondering what to do after interacting with your content. Your sitemap reflects the intuitive way in which the users travel through your site. Every part of your website should reinforce your goals and any page that isn’t tied to the website’s purpose should be cut off to avoid cluttering and confusion.
There are many SEO on Page practices that help in optimising a site but one of those, the importance of which is sometimes underestimated, is sitemaps. Your website’s sitemap is of vital importance to the search engine web crawling robots and enables search engines to calculate the number of pages on your site, analyse what these pages constitute, and how often your site is updated. So, if you make any changes to your site, the sitemap informs the search engine of the alteration, and the change is indexed faster than it would have been done without a sitemap. (WesFed, 2018)
Since your sitemap contains a link to every page within your website, if the search engine robot hits your sitemap, it would follow every link listed there as well. Thus, each page of your website is ultimately indexed by the search engine. An when the links of all the major pages are included in its database, your site is more likely to appear when the user performs a query. Moreover, Google favours websites incorporating a search engine optimized sitemap. If crawlers do not find their way around your website, your site will not be indexed or ranked. As a result, organic traffic through your site would dwindle.
A well-planned sitemap should be linked to your homepage. This makes it easier for search engines to find it and follow it back to the site. If it’s linked from other pages, the search engine might inadvertently hit a dead-end page and just quit. Also, many SEO experts agree that you should have no more than 40 links on your sitemap, since it might confuse the visitors and raise suspicion in the search engine. A good sitemap shows a quick overview of your site, utilizes important keyword, provides an easy to follow path for the search engine robots to follow, and quickly shows the users where they need to be.