Sitemap. Why Your Website Can’t Do Without It

January 20, 2009

A sitemap is a page in your website that summarises the sections in your site. It functions like an online table of contents.

With the sitemap, you can organize and classify pages according to groups with clickable links.

You can also make the sitemap’s link appear on every web page so that viewers of your website can easily access the rest of your website even if they didn’t land on your homepage during their first visit.

Sitemaps are useful for both site owner and visitors. Below are the 4 major benefits of sitemaps.

1. Sitemaps help your web design team allocate and organize web space

Before making your website available for public viewing, a sitemap already plays a major role in building your website. The sitemap can start off as a simple, hand-written organizational chart on a piece of paper. For the more “organized,” you can also use Excel or PowerPoint to make a visual representation of how you want your website contents to flow.

Your web design team can then begin strategising on how many pages you will need and how much content should fit per page.

The sitemap also serves as the backbone of your in-site linking system.

2. Sitemaps allow your visitors to see the big picture

Search engine results do not always pull up your website. Search engine spiders crawl through every indexed web page with textual content that matches a user’s inquiry. This means that any of your web pages could end up as a search engine result. Through the search engine, users are more likely to be directed to content pages rather than your homepage.

Having your sitemap link on every single page gives users access to the rest of your website. The sitemap gives them the big picture, so that they can better absorb the information they’ve just read from your web page.

3. Sitemaps help your visitors navigate your website

Sitemaps make any website foolproof. You eliminate the need for visitors to keep hitting the “back” button when they need to refer to something. With a sitemap in every page, visitors can just go back to your online table of contents and click the page they want to jump to. Better yet, they can open a page in another tab or window, making it easier for them to compare and analyze.

4. Sitemaps maximize SEO efforts for your website

The availability of a sitemap in every page encourages visitors to go through your entire website. This gives you the chance to reach out to a wider audience, and to make them explore what your site has to offer.

Of course, keep in mind that a wonderful sitemap does not replace compelling and relevant content. Sitemaps can make sure that your content gets read, but your articles still do most of the selling for you.

Make sure you update your content regularly, to give customers a reason to visit you again and to tell their friends and family about how helpful and informative your website is.