The Importance of Sitemaps
A sitemap can come in many forms. It can be used in an Information Architecture document at the beginning of a project to provide a visual display of how the pages of a site link together. It can be an html page that exists on a website to show the user of the site all of the pages that are available to them. It can also be an xml document that is created and submitted to search engines.
These last two are the ones I will focus on.
An html sitemap will usually live in the root folder of a website (www.mysite.com/sitemap.html). If a user wants to quickly find a page in a website but isn’t sure where to find it in the navigation then they can go to the sitemap.html page. This page will have all of the links for the site organized by how they are arranged in the navigation. You can see ours at https://www.csmediagroup.com/sitemap.html From a Usability standpoint this is an important page to have.
It is also important from a Search Engine Optimization perspective. Having an html sitemap ensures that Google will be able to find all of the pages of your site. Our corporate site has its navigation in Flash which means that Google can’t see it. Including an html sitemap provides Google with a way of indexing all of the pages in our site because Google will follow all of the links on a site to see where they go.
An XML sitemap is an even better way of making sure Google sees all of the pages on your site. There are many automated tools out there that will create an XML sitemap for you. All you have to do is give them your url and they will do the rest. Once the document is created you can submit it to Google. Again, this is important to do to ensure that Google sees all of the pages on your website.
A sitemap is something that is often overlooking when developing a site but it is an essential part of good SEO and Usability.