Many changes take place year after year when it comes to the best and most practical web design practices. As web designers and developers, we try to think on both sides of the playing field to ensure our clients get the best and most effective online presence. By both sides, I mean design and development/optimization. Having a great looking website is valuable and will prove to yield more interest from potential customers, however achieving a great web design is only half the battle. The remaining work includes developing the website using the latest techniques and SEO, or “search engine optimization” practices. One of these elements are known as “sitemaps” and have been used since the beginning of time. ( *Enter the scene of dinosaurs coming in from stage left*) Yes, all the way back to prehistoric internet times, circa 1998, Sitemaps have been used for a few different reasons.
Sitemaps for Usability:
A sitemap should be included on your website as an extra page that is merely a glossary for users. On this page, you should include a link to every page of your site, at least every main category page. Sitemaps will help the user zone in on where they need to go on your site much faster than hunting for the page.
Sitemaps for SEO:
On the SEO level, a Sitemap is still very much important. Why so? Well, because Google calls the shots, and Google will index your website much faster when you have submitted one to them. On top of this, Google Webmasters offers an easy way to track your sitemap and page count for how many pages were actually indexed, or crawled. Creating a sitemap for Google is a little different, as it is not classified as another page of the site. Instead, you want to make sure to create a .xml file to submit. Luckily, there are sites that will generate these files for you. We prefer to use: http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/
Take that file, upload it to your webmasters account, and watch to see your site get indexed much faster. In the end, sitemaps are still very important to include in your SEO efforts.
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This article is brought to you by Josh Olswanger of Thrive Web Designs, a Boise web design firm.