Why is the sitemap of your website important?

    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.



    1. Why a sitemap is fundamental to your website

    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.


    2. Why you should always have a goal in mind

    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?”

    2.1. You never want your visitor to be confused when navigating your website or interacting with your content.

    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.

    3. Why is vital for your SEO positioning

    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.


    4. In short, what are the advantages of a sitemap?

    • Clarification of themes: Have you ever wandered aimlessly through a site, browsing page after page, wondering what the website is all about? The sitemap provides a snapshot of your site’s theme and helps the user better grasp the services and products that you offer. The sitemap also helps the webmaster when they add a new section, as they can view the foundations of the site and take in to account the current structure, maintaining the organisation of the site.
    • Reduces broken links: If your site has any broken, missing, or incorrect internal links, crawl reports can be picked up straightaway with the help of sitemaps. While the problem should be fixed as soon as possible, sitemaps can offer a temporary solution and help in the meantime.
    • Streamlines conversion funnel: In a conversion funnel, it is better to have a minimum number of steps for your users to convert. The more steps, the more chance visitors have to leave the site without completing their purchase or signup. Use your sitemap to figure out what the necessary steps are, combining steps when possible. A visual representation, like a flowchart, can make streamlining your funnel easier.
    • Content modification equals higher rankings: You can only maintain higher ranks in the search engines if you keep modifying content on your site, keeping it fresh and useful to the needs of your visitors. If you have used a sitemap creator or manually created a sitemap, Google will be alerted whenever your site’s content is modified.
    • Kickstarts new businesses: The main reason you invest time and money creating new content for your site is that you expect to be discovered by consumers on the web and by using a sitemap you will be discovered fast. This is highly recommended for new websites as kickstarts activity, interest and revenue.
    • A time saving tool: Some pieces of information should be delivered when still fresh, like news items. You don’t have to wait and guess when the spiders are likely to pay your website a visit. You tremendously cut on this time.
    • Understanding your visitors: You can learn a great deal by monitoring your sitemap reports. You will be notified of any errors will, which will action you to fix, as well as where your traffic comes from and through which keywords., Using this information can help you improve your content and attract more visitors to your website.
    • Bringing teams together: Websites are rarely built by a single person and can often involve input from different counterparts in the business, such as a designer, project manager or your Smarketing A sitemap makes sure everyone involved in the project is on the same page and not static, so is likely to change as your business progresses. The sitemap can serve as a central clearing house for tracking your project, what’s been completed, what still needs work, and what progress is being made.
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