A sitemap is a list of all the pages (URLs) on a website. This file is used by search engines as an overview of all available content as well as a way to (better) understand the structure of the website.
A sitemap can be used to improve the indexation of a website. Sitemaps can be submitted easily and conveniently to the Google search engine.
A quick search on Google for advice on creating a site map initially threw up many links to software you could buy or download for free to create a site map.
But why do you need a site map?
Basically, as websites get larger and more complicated, both humans and search engine spiders want an easy-to-follow map to locate all of your site’s pages. They can use a site map as a simple navigating aid.
Sitemaps have 3 main benefits:
1) A site map allows visitors to easily find what they are looking for by simply visiting your site map and clicking on the link to go directly to the page they want to visit.
2) Web page readers and screen readers are frequently used to aid with the reading of web pages, but they can only follow text links. It may not always be possible to present a text link to every other page on your website on your home page and other pages inside your website for practical reasons, so use a site map instead.
3) Search engine spiders like text and text links. If they cannot follow a text link to a page of your site it may not get indexed. Make it easy for the spider to index all your pages through a site map.
A site map consists of the two things search engines love – text and keywords. To build a good site map combine relevant keywords with hypertext links. For example, on your site map, you may have a link to your webpage about website promotion, so your hyperlink should contain the words ‘website promotion’ and link directly to that page within your site.
A site map doesn’t have to be fancy, and in fact, shouldn’t be, but it should be simple and easy to browse.
Here are some tips for a good site map:
1. Place a prominent link to your site map on every page and label it SITE MAP.
2. It should show all your web pages through different levels as basic text links.
3. Use standard colors for links and visited links.
4. It should show a quick, easy to follow overview of the site without the need to scroll around in the web browser.
Google allows users to add site maps to their accounts as a method of informing Google about all of their website’s sites and modifications. It has little effect on your page ranking, but it is worth the time to set it up properly.
A well-planned site map can ensure your Website is fully indexed by search engines.