How will your visitor know the contents of your website once he comes to it? Your home page may set the topic, but what if your visitor wants to know what specific information will he find? This is where a sitemap is useful. Acting like a book’s table of contents, your sitemap will let your visitor know if you have the information he needs.
So, what is a sitemap? Strictly speaking, it is a graphical representation of the structure of your website. It shows how the pages are linked to one another. But such a representation may be difficult to implement, and if there are many pages, it may even be difficult for a visitor to find useful. So, a sitemap is created by listing links to all the documents and files found in a website. These links are typically organized in a hierarchical manner (i.e.: an outline), thus improving readability.
Sitemaps not only serve your “human” visitors, but search engines as well. The search engines’ robots, or spiders, crawl the Internet, gathering data on web pages. They crawl by following links, hence, a good sitemap may be used for search engine optimization.
Benefits of a SiteMap
Creating sitemaps may take time and effort, so why have one? The following lists some of the benefits for creating a sitemap for your website.
1. You can use a sitemap as a planing tool for web design.
Even if you have a website with very few pages, it is good to have some structure for your website. This way, if you add more pages later on, you will know where to put them. Your site will not become a mish-mash of pages without any relation to one another.
2. No page will be left unvisited.
The search engine spiders will be able to visit all the pages in your website if you have a sitemap. Your pages will then be included in the search engines’ databases, increasing your ranking.
3. Visitors will have an easier time navigating your site.
One reason that visitors stay on a site is the ease of navigating through the site. With a sitemap, visitors can easily access all pages within your site from one central location, and can quickly view all the content you have available to see if you have what they need. Without a sitemap, your visitors may give up and leave your site, going back to the search engine page, to look elsewhere for information that they could have found in your website, if you only had a site map.
4. A sitemap may encourage more traffic.
As your web site grows, you must update your sitemap. This way, visitors will know that content is being added to your website, encouraging them to return. This is also true if you are selling products or offering services. Potential buyers will immediately know your latest products or services by visiting your sitemap.
5. There is potential advertising value when using a sitemap.
With a sitemap, potential advertisers will find it easy to best position themselves in the different pages of your website where they can advertise. This will mean additional income for you.
The benefits of having sitemaps make it worth the time and effort to create them. Not only will they help you in designing your web site, they will also ease the navigation for your visitors and may help your web site in search engine rankings, increase traffic to your site, and provide you with income from advertisements.