An often ignored, but important part of search engine optimization, is the sitemap. Most likely, you’ve spent lots of time on creating original content, incoming links and keyword density. But it is just as likely that you have not given any thought to a sitemap. Given the intense competition for Google’s attention and the simple fact that your sitemap boosts SEO, can you afford to ignore it?
What is a sitemap?
The page or pages that contain a list of and link to all the other documents on your site.
How Your Sitemap Boosts SEO?
2. Helps Search engine spiders (Google robots) quickly find and index every single page of your site.
So what are the cons? There are none. It’s all upside. This is a win-win situation for you, your website visitors and Google. There is absolutely no reason not to use a sitemap as part of your overall website promotion strategy. Fortunately, it is not too late to create your sitemap, just follow these rules:
1. Your sitemap must only be linked to from your homepage and no other page. We want the search engine spiders to find this link directly from your homepage and follow it from there. Your sitemap MUST NOT be linked to from every other page of your site. Linking to your sitemap from only the homepage also helps “funnel” Google Page Rank quickly to pages all over your site.
2. Limit the number of pages listed on your sitemap to 30. If you have more pages, listing them in the sitemap can cause Google to view you as a link farm.
It also makes the sitemap a lot easier for real human visitors to read through. Limiting the number of pages listed on each sitemap to 30 might mean splitting your sitemap over 5, 10 or 20 pages. This has to be done and the long term benefits are worth it. Bear in mind that if you do create a 20 page sitemap you’ve just created an extra 20 pages of content for your website!
3. Make absolutely sure that each of your sitemap pages links to the next. If you have 10 sitemap pages in total then each of those needs to link to every other sitemap page. Otherwise both visitors and search engine spiders will find a broken link, lose interest and go away.
4. Test your sitemap thoroughly. Make sure all the links work. Make sure it’s easy to read and navigate through. Your sitemap is there to help your visitor and not confuse them.
The last three rules involve the structure of your sitemap. Following them will ensure that your site gets the most benefit from your sitemap.
5. The title of each sitemap link should be keyword rich and link directly back to the original page.
6. Include 10 – 20 words of text from the original page of content underneath the relevant sitemap link. This creates more content for search engine spiders and human visitors can see exactly what each page is about before clicking.
7. Ensure that the look and feel of your sitemap page is consistent with the rest of your site. Use the same basic HTML template you used for every other page of your site.
So now you understand the importance of building a sitemap for your website. There is work involved, but the long term benefits for your websites far outweigh any effort you have to make right now. I hope you try these things and have success in your SEO efforts. Let me know how your sitemap boosts SEO on your site. Leave comments below.