Friday, March 27, 2009

Arrrgh... It's a Treasure, uh, Sitemap

Treasure MapThere are two types of sitemaps that you might employ on a website. First the HTML version which is intended to offer the average visitor to the website an overview of your website. The second is a machine readable XML sitemap (commonly referred to as a Google Sitemap) intended to inform a search bot of the pages found on your website. I'd always recommend the use of both - in various forms.

HTML sitemaps are a wonderful resource. If a visitor to the website can't find what they are looking for this is the easiest way to point it out. In addition many fail to realise that his is a prime spot to put text links to pages with your keywords as the anchor text. In addition why not add a little additional information next to the link. Suddenly the whole page becomes a fantastic resource for both human and bot.

XML sitemaps a great for dynamic websites. Many of the websites we have worked on include many products or other kind of items listed. Scripts can be run to dynamically generate this sitemap as listings are changed or updated. These sitemaps can be submitted directly to the search engines informing them that this is a true reflection of your site.

I've tended to break my XML sitemaps down into smaller maps. Often breaking down static pages and separating them from the dynamic pages. On our really large sites I have even broken the dynamic sitemaps into categories. Mostly you don't want to offer a sitemap of thousands of pages to the search engines at a time. A thousand pages or so may be the limit.

Submit your XML sitemaps to the search engines and be sure to link to your HTML sitemap from your homepage, this will ensure that the sitemap is easily crawled by the search engines and will subsequently lead to the other pages being easily indexed.


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