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Site Maps


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35 replies to this topic

#1 compar

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:49 PM

It is my belief that if navigation is set up correctly, or well, there should not be a requirement for a separate "site map" page to direct the search engines spiders. If the home page contains a link to every major subsection and each subsection's main page contains links to all lower level pages and finally every page contains a link back to the home page -- boy this is a long sentence -- then no "site map" should be necessary.

Yet I read again and again SEO experts extolling the virtues and requirements for "site maps". Am I missing something?

#2 Haystack

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:04 PM

compar, the same could be said about the need for a site search engine. It's not critical but it is a somewhat common convention used by newbies to a site to find their way around. Keep in mind that your navigation is only guaranteed to be intuitive to the person who designed your site.

In looking at the stats of sites I monitor which have a sitemap I don't see a high usage but it does get used. Enough to justify the time to building it? Debatable.

Search engine friendly page a search engine robot can use to reliably find the important content within your site? Definitely.

#3 compar

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:31 PM

Ed,

I don't deny that site maps are search engine friendly. The question I asked is are they more search engine friendly than well designed navigation.

I don't think navigation should be intuitive. I think it should be obvious! And I think you can make it obvious to both the user and the search engines without the use of a site map.

#4 Scottie

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:34 PM

It is always a good idea to give your visitors as many options for navigating your site as possible. It shouldn't replace your intuitive navigation, it should be another option for those who prefer it.

It it necessary? No. Is it a good thing to have? Definitely. And not just for spiders.

#5 Jill

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 09:37 PM

Personally, I tend to gravitate towards a site map when I'm on a new site. Perhaps they're just not set up correctly, or perhaps I just like sitemaps.

The fact is, some people will look for one, so why not have one?

Jill

#6 Mel

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:58 PM

I have yet to see a navigation system that can give you an overall view of how the site is set up and what it contains as well as a good site map.

#7 mcanerin

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:07 PM

For one site I put the site map right at the bottom of the main page, and it seemed to be very helpful - after all spiders seem to like pages one link away from the main page than they do pages buried several levels deep.

I could do it in this case because there are only about 20 pages total - obviously a 100+ page site wouldn't work as well.

I also like site maps because you can offer several ways to get to the same page - A site map does not have to be a duplicate of your web structure.

You can even have more than one site map - designed for different users, and even using different terms for the same content. This helps keyword wise, as well as being user friendly.

A person interested in the stock of a public company will want to look at many aspects of the website - history, products, current stock price, etc that are different (or in a different order) than a technical user.

Why not, you ask, use 2 or more different sites? Sometimes it's not feasible to duplicate everything, and if it's a public company and there is info on one that isn't on the other (on purpose or by accident) you can have problems with regulatory boards (I speak from personal experience).

One problem I have with "Search" functions is that by providing content independent of the design of the site you can get confused people thinking that (for example) this old driver for this product is the only (or best) one simply because it's the one at the top.

At least if you have a custom site map you can maintain a virtual site design that fits the creators intent.

#8 Bill Slawski

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:19 PM

I do use sitemaps when I can't find what I'm looking for with the site's main navigation.

There's nothing more frustrating than a poorly designed site map. OK, I'm wrong. A bad site search engine is even worse. When you know that the information is on a site, and you can't find it with the site search engine, that's a reason to never ever return to the site again.


Organize your sitemaps links well, and give me an idea of what is actually behind each of those links.

Pogosticking back and forth is no fun, and a good reason for me to find another site.

A site map does not have to be a duplicate of your web structure.


I agree 100%. Great points, throughout. Very nice post, mcanerin.

#9 Dave_T

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:26 PM

I think site map is a good idea for making a way for the bots to reach deeper pages on the sites. I maintain a 300+ pages and 4 level depth web site, I found site map make the bots crawl faster. It's the "2 clicks rule" from the home page...

#10 compar

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:52 PM

I have yet to see a navigation system that can give you an overall view of how the site is set up and what it contains as well as a good site map.

Mel,

I would agree that a site map gives a better over all view of a site, but on a large omnibus site with many topics covered an over all view may be more information than is required and simply confuse the viewer. Navigation that will take the viewer to his/her area of interest may be far more useful.

In addition you may wish the viewer to proceed through the site in a particular order so that you can impart the total message to him/her as they navigate through the levels -- not too many levels I agree. With a site map someone could jump right to any place on the site and might miss your well planned message in the process.

#11 compar

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:57 PM

I think site map is a good idea for making a way for the bots to reach deeper pages on the sites.  I maintain a 300+ pages and 4 level depth web site, I found site map make the bots crawl faster. It's the "2 clicks rule" from the home page...

How can you possibly measure the speed at which the "bots crawl"???

#12 Dave_T

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:08 AM

How can you possibly measure the speed at which the "bots crawl"???

It is possible if you have two comparison sites that have similar characteristics one without a sitemap and one with a sitemap by setting a watch on your weblog software for the bots ip number on both sites and see which third level pages get crawled first.

Further you can possibly get exaclty when Google indexes the compared pages.

#13 dabblingmum

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:15 PM

What is the best way to put a site map on your site? Broken up into categories or alphabetical listing?

Should you have a site map on every page or just the home page?

Thanks!

Alyice

#14 mcanerin

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 12:19 PM

I like to put a link on every page, since you never know when a visitor will get lost or frustrated.

Usually, I make it part of the menu bar or at the top beside the banner.

#15 Matt B

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 01:18 PM

For ecommerce sites, I have found it best NOT to do a complete product dump in a sitemap. It's rude and disrespectful to your site visitors, and not to mention completely ugly from a design perspective.

Think about sitemaps like aisles in a supermarket, they don't list all of the products available, just the main categories found in that section. Enough description is available so that while you are running into the store, you can quickly find the beer aisle. :P




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