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Site Maps


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35 replies to this topic

#16 compar

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 02:11 PM

It's rude and disrespectful to your site visitors, and not to mention completely ugly from a design perspective.

That is exactly my feeling. And with all the talk of minimizing the clicks why drive a visitor to a page with no content just to find their way around the site. The home page should have obvious navigation to all the major sections of a site. Then the first page of each section should have navigation to all it's major subsection. The visitor should be able to return to the home or main page from anywhere in the site and this will serve as the site map to the major categories.

As a website visitor if I could not find my way around through normal navigation I would leave.

One of the rerason I started this discussion is that we do not use a site map on our corporate page. I have thought about it time and time again and just can't see what function it would serve. I invite anyone to have a look at our site and tell me if you really feel a site map would enhance the site in anyway.

#17 jbelle

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 03:01 PM

compar, I don't think you need one.

That being said, I enjoy a site map and this is how one would help me on your site:

I'm coming to the site looking for a shopping cart solution; the navigation at the top makes sense to me, but I click on "software." Why might I not click on "Internet"? Because I'm thinkin' maybe you guys are an ISP, or that perhaps that's where you have hosting info (and a lot of places that host need a lot of space to discuss all the options). When it's not there, no problem, I click on "Internet" and I'm there.

Again, I think you're fine without a site map and I think your navigation is very good. Please don't take my example to mean otherwise. If I were reviewing it, I would say it the navigation was good and clear; the reason for my example is just to assure you a site map wouldn't be ridiculously unecessary and that a site map can provide insight into how the designer's organized the site, because, after all, everyone is different.

The reason I really like site maps is actually unrelated to both search engines and users: I think they're a great excersize for the web designer and a great resource when I'm getting to something fast.

When I'm almost done with a site, I start the site map. It helps me flush out any areas that I missed and reminds me (with a large site) of areas I wanted to revisit.

Additionally, sometimes I just want to make sure a link works, so I zip over to my site map and get right to the page (more of an issue with deep sites).

#18 Bill Slawski

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:13 PM

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


Hi Alyice,

You are much better off if you stay away from alphabetical order for a site map.

Well defined categories make everything easier.

Text descriptions next to links and headings on a site map can be a great idea, too. Similar to what you would see in a directory like Yahoo or the Open Directory. Put your target words (keywords) to the pages in the links, and the additional text.

The idea behind the site map is to give a person an idea at a glance what is included on the site. It doesn't have to link to every page, and it shouldn't duplicate the file structure or main navigation of a site. It's purpose is to help people find information.

Alphabetical order can make it really difficult to find something, and to find it quickly. It's also much easier to miss something that way.

#19 Ron Carnell

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 07:23 PM

I think the best reason for having a well designed site map is diversity.

Some people learn best when the material is presented aurally, while some absorb more materially when it's presented visually. Some people are more comfortable "thinking" with words, while others prefer pictures. Some people are hands-on, while others are perfectly happy to sit back and observe. There is no such thing as an "average" person, so there is very rarely a "best way" to do something. Multiple paths provide people with choices.

Different strokes for different folks. :huh:

#20 brianjulkunen

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:52 PM

True, if your sites navigation structure is clear you may not need a site map, however, ther are other reasons (optimization) to include a site map. Google looks at the anchor text to help determine the pages relevancy to a search query, and if your title of your page matches the anchor text on the site map this can give you a great boost in your rankings. just my 2 cents.

#21 Marc

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 01:48 PM

Hi All,

my take on sitemaps...a must have, even with the easiset of navigation setup people like to get to their destination as fast as possible..I even went to the point as ask my wife and other family members how they like to surf sites, the majority of them I've asked always seem to say while surfing "ok..let me jump to the sitemap" or "i'm not sure where I found it on the site, let me get to the sitemap first".

I make sure to include a site map on my own site as well as corporate site creation, well worth the time and energy, you'd be surprised how many people hit the sitemap from search engines.

#22 compar

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 04:01 PM

Ok! Ok! You've convinced me already.

Now will some of you give me the URLs for some of the better designed site map that you are familiar with?

#23 Haystack

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 04:14 PM

Apple's is well organized. So is Forbes

Search for inurl:sitemap to find tons of examples.

#24 darryld

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 09:47 AM

Just thought I would pipe in here to mention another reason to use a sitemap.

We had a problem on a site that we built where all the heavy content pages were dynamically generated based on user feedback and selections. These pages never got crawled because the spiders cant make desicions, they only follow links. The only way we were able to get the pages crawled was to dynamically create a sitemap from the database, creating links to every possible product page. We linked to the sitemap via a 1x1 spacer on one of the crawlable pages, thus opening it up to the spiders. There are no other links to the sitemap and visitors never view it. Basically the sitemap is only there for the spiders, which may change eventually, but for now it is just getting our product pages crawled.

#25 schecky

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 09:09 PM

We linked to the sitemap via a 1x1 spacer on one of the crawlable pages, thus opening it up to the spiders.

I'd watch that! If it is an invisible link, it states in the Google guidelines it is a don't do. A buddy was banned for 2 months from Google because he had a single pixel gif in a href for detecting screenscrapping of his site. A few emails and a few months later he started showing in the SERPs it took a further couple of months to return to where he was previously.

#26 qwerty

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 09:43 PM

I agree. That sounds very dangerous. Basically, whenever you've got something that you know is, or even think might be

only there for the spiders

you ought to have second thoughts.

#27 Scottie

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 09:46 PM

Hi Darryld! :bubbly:

Welcome to the forum- we're glad you decided to join the conversation!

An invisible link is definitely a bad idea... why not use a visible link? What would it hurt if a human visitor wanted to use the site map too?

#28 schecky

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 10:05 PM

That is exactly my feeling.  And with all the talk of minimizing the clicks why drive a visitor to a page with no content just to find their way around the site.  The home page should have obvious navigation to all the major sections of a site.  Then the first page of each section should have navigation to all it's major subsection. The visitor should be able to return to the home or main page from anywhere in the site and this will serve as the site map to the major categories.

Agreed, and what about a very large site with thousands of pages. Is a sitemap really going to cut it? Probably not IMO, sitemaps are crutchs for poor navigation and SE friendly design. It also dilutes PR since the sitemap is at the second level in the link architecture.

#29 Jill

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 10:36 PM

It also dilutes PR since the sitemap is at the second level in the link architecture.


Umm...no.

Jill

#30 compar

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Posted 09 August 2003 - 12:02 AM

This thread is probably winding down. I thought you might be interested in what I think I have learned and what I plan to do as a result of this interesting discussion.

It is clear that initially I was pretty anti site maps. But dispite the few of you who seemed to basically agree with my position there have been enough reasoned arguments -- in the nicest sense of the word -- extolling the virtues and value and of site maps that I have decide to include one on one or more of my sites and try and evalualte it's impact. Here are the reason and argument that have persuaded me.

1. Some people depend on site maps regardless of what other navigation exists on the web site.

2. Even as good as I think the navigation is on my own web site upon further examination I realized that I do have some navigation links or important text anchors placed below the fold on some pages and as a result they may not get found.

3. While we should not link purely to influence the search engines a site map that uses the major keywords for each of your pages as the site map link to that page will probably influence your search engine ranking.

4. A preponderance of my peers -- people on this forum -- recommend and use site maps.

I wouldn't participate in a forum if I didn't think I could learn something or have my mind changed. I to thank thank everyone who expressed an opinion on this subject and maybe in a couple or three months I will report back on what I find from adding some site maps to my web sites.




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