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Sitemap Optimization: The Importance of Sitemaps
Friday, April 09, 2010
I remember one of the first tasks that I had to do when I got into the industry way back when.  I was tasked with creating an HTML sitemap for a client.  I was new to the industry and at the time had limited HTML skills so this seemed like a most challenging task for me.  To be honest I did not even know what a sitemap was exactly so I had to do a little research.  What I quickly discovered was the importance of sitemaps.

Sitemaps serve two major functions:
  1. To help users navigate your site
  2. To help search engine crawlers navigate your website
I would add a third in that sitemaps are very useful when interlinking important content on your site. After I completed the task of constructing my very first sitemap, I must say that I was pretty proud of what I developed.  I had basically created this amazing portal/navigation page that helped direct visitors to my client's content.  Over the years I have worked on numerous and more elaborate sitemap strategies and every time I work on a sitemap strategy, I continue to appreciate the value of a well optimized sitemap.

Years later the three major search engines agreed on a set protocol for sitemaps, of the XML variety, and the sitemap became even more important.  Sitemaps are a great tool for helping the search engines crawl and index your content... and when we talk about content, we are not just referring to typical web pages.  Sitemaps can be used for video optimization via creation of a video sitemap and for images as announced this week by Google.  As Google illustrates:
Sitemaps are an invaluable resource for search engines. They can highlight the important content on a site and allow crawlers to quickly discover it. Images are an important element of many sites and search engines could equally benefit from knowing which images you consider important.

Now you can use a Sitemaps extension to provide Google with exactly this information. For each URL you list in your Sitemap, you can add additional information about important images that exist on that page.

The example shared by Google looks like this:



We have discussed the benefits of XML sitemaps in the past, this new sitemap extension is a great way to share information about the images that you feature on your site.

Sitemaps are one of the greatest tools that you can leverage for the purpose of navigation.  Acting like an index in a book, sitemaps help guide both users and search engine crawlers to the pages that are the most important.  You can control which pages are featured on your sitemap and as a result direct users to this content accordingly. 

If you have not recently updated your HTML sitemap and/or your XML sitemap, you might want to take some time to do so.  An updated sitemap will help direct traffic to any new content that you have added to your website.  Help users engage with this content by adding a link to it from your sitemap.  The importance and significance of a sitemap is obvious, you should leverage your sitemaps in he best interests of your site visitors.  Make it easy for them to find your content.  A well optimized sitemap will do just that.

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posted by Jody @ Friday, April 09, 2010  
  • At 4:48 PM, Blogger Roberto Nicolinni said…

    Excellent post. What do you think of the Google xml Sitemap Plugin for Wordpress by Arne B.
    Does it do all of what should be done?

  • At 3:23 AM, Anonymous seo india said…

    awesome post!!its always a wise idea to create a sitemap as its useful for both visitors and search engines.thanx for sharing this with us.. A++++

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