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Use a Site Map to Improve Rankings

Posted on the 27 February 2013 by Georgestevens @Nebstone
web design

What is a sitemap and how important is it for SEO purposes?

If you have website a sitemap is not likely to be a new concept to you. It is simply an extra page added to your web site that links to all other pages used to let a search engine know which pages are most relevant and important. The sitemap tells the search engine exactly where all of the pages are and identifies them so they can be crawled and indexed appropriately.

You do not need to list it on your primary navigation menu but it does need to be in a standard position on all pages of your website and should be easy to find. The reason for this is simply to ensure the bots can find everything to index it, as well as improving usability of the site for the reader. Your site being classified as ‘user friendly’ by itself will help boost your rankings regardless of anything else.

Websites of all sizes will benefit from having a sitemap, but for larger multipage sites they are essential. Typically any site with more than 16 pages will not be fully indexed without an accurate sitemap. With the sitemap search engines can quickly identify and index each page and add the page title and meta descriptions to the indexed search results. This will result in optimum utilization of any keywords you are trying to make relevant as well as ensuring all content is indexed for appearance in search results

Sitemaps Give Users a Better Experience

When clicking through large multipage websites it is easy to get lost and not be able to return to the page you started on before browsing other pages. The sitemap will allow the user to quickly locate that page and return to it. In addition if a user finds your website by clicking a search result that sends them to a specific page it will allow them to quickly assess what other pages may be relevant and of interest to them increasing overall traffic and time spent on your site. Most users will not randomly click more than a couple times within your site without a clear indication of what may be of interest, but once they have engaged a few pages then leisurely browsing is normal.

Sitemaps are Critical for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

Adding a sitemap to your site will not directly change your rankings. It is not a case of points (ranking position) for having one or losing points for not have one. What it does do is ensure all of your pages and content are completely indexed to give the maximum opportunities for your site to appear in search results. If your pages or content are not being indexed and therefore not even appearing in search results they cannot be further optimized. Before getting keyword ranking the search engine must find, read, and index the page. Once this is done then other strategies can be implemented to increase ranking and visibility. The sitemap ensures you will get to that point.

Without a sitemap any page more than a couple clicks from the main page will take far longer to be indexed at the least and slower to be updated in addition to running the risk of being skipped over entirely.

If using WordPress there is a simple plugin (Google XML Sitemap) that will not only maintain your sitemap, but it will also notify major search engines each time content is added to any page to ensure rapid and complete indexing. This will remove most of the work from maintaining a fully functioning sitemap.

Amanda Revie is an
SEO, social media and online marketing specialist.

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