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Multiple Site Maps Or Not?


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9 replies to this topic

#1 Pete L

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 04:38 PM


Hi,

I have a directory with a site map that lists all 50 U.S. states. Although the directory itself does well in search rankings, the bots don't seem to be picking pick up information in the city pages. The site has been up for 4 years. I think this might be due to the fact that I use a CGI script that provides a drop-down menu of state names on the main page. From there, the visitors are taken to a STATE page, which provides another drop-down CGI menu for each city. Maybe this is too much for the bots to follow.

My two solutions are:

1) Make individual site maps for each state page, like the main page, that would show the same general links as the main site map but would give links to each city instead of each state.

2) Make 50 separate NON-CGI pages with city hyperlinks that are directly linked to the main site map. This would mean the main and only site map would provide a set of common html hyperlinks for the bots to follow to any city page,

I'm fine with either solution but I'm also concerned about this. Is it a bad idea to have multiple site maps on a site?

I'm going out to coach youth basketball for the afternoon but I will return later to respond to replies.

Thanks,

Pete


#2 Jill

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 05:35 PM

If I understand you correctly I would go with option 2. Sitemaps aren't going to get you much as it's just one link. The other option seems like it will really be integrated into your site and therefore have the ability to do well with the engines.

#3 Randy

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 05:40 PM

Whether the CGI element is a problem or not depends upon how the info ends up appearing on the page. Assuming it's a pretty standard setup where the form information is being written to the html, it's not a problem.

I highly suspect your problem is with the drop down elements themselves. Normally those are part of a <form> and as a general rule the search engine spiders do not submit forms.

Depending upon how it's all set up you may be able to simply tweak the back end code a bit and have the information currently in the form turned into a CSS List that looks like a form. Because the List would contain plain old <a href links in plain old html, the spiders would start following them.

One way or another, whether you convert the <form>s into css or not, you'll need to give the spiders a nice clean link to get to those pages if you want them to be indexed. Which could mean a site map, creating 50 static pages or any of several other ideas.

#4 Pete L

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Posted 21 March 2009 - 08:24 PM

Hi Jill and Randy,

I'm going to go with option two and see how things turn out. I did look into the "sucker fish" idea a few years ago but decided against it because of the numerous browsers I knew were in the works, Opera, Chrome, Safari, etc. The problem is not all browsers work with the same code. The other alternative is to use JavaScript menus, but if some users have JavaScript off, they would be pretty much stuck at the page they came in on. Well I tell you my little Rosanne Rosannadanna, it's always something.

Anyway, thanks for the info. This is truly a first rate forum. appl.gif

Pete

#5 Jill

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 08:58 AM

QUOTE
I did look into the "sucker fish" idea a few years ago but decided against it because of the numerous browsers I knew were in the works, Opera, Chrome, Safari, etc. The problem is not all browsers work with the same code.


All browsers work fine with clean CSS menus, etc.

#6 Pete L

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 03:38 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Mar 22 2009, 09:58 AM) View Post
All browsers work fine with clean CSS menus, etc.


Well I might just look into that further, too; however, I also need to increase the depth of my site menu and the 50 extra pages with citiy hyperlinks will work well for that.

Could you imagine for such a large directory a single page (site map) with over 15,000 links on it! I mean you'd have to hire a sherpa to scroll up it. roflmao.gif

Thaks Jill,

Pete

#7 Randy

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Posted 22 March 2009 - 08:44 PM

Such a page would be completely useless to real visitors. So you'd never want to do that anyway.

#8 Pete L

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 12:43 PM


I decided to take an approach of less change with the same results. I kept the site map the same but added the city hyperlinks to each STATE page. Now there is both the original drop-down CGI menu and plain hyperlinks on each STATE page and the page size isn't too bad, about 30K on average with some huge states like California and New York at near 70K.

So now all the search bots have to do is this:

Index Page, follow site map hyperlink... Site map, follow each state hyperlink... Each state page, follow each city hyperlink.

Now that I have the markup completed on all 50-state pages, my question is this:

Should I switch a few pages at a time and monitor my rankings or should I switch them all out at once. Also, what is the approximate time I should wait to see when the pages are indexed?

Thanks,

Pete



#9 Jill

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 02:23 PM

Switch them all at once since you're making your site better and more accessible, in general. Why wait to do good things on your site?

#10 Pete L

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Posted 25 March 2009 - 04:27 PM

QUOTE(Jill @ Mar 25 2009, 03:23 PM) View Post
Switch them all at once since you're making your site better and more accessible, in general. Why wait to do good things on your site?


Thanks; will do...

I did check into the sucker fish idea but it is a lot more difficult, because it would be such a large menu. Adding a scroll bar to a CSS sucker fish is possible but difficult. Most of the pages I researched agreed that JavaScript was needed for some browsers, too. That means for what I need, compatibility would be an issue, which usually translates into endless work, boo!

An alternative would be a double column sucker fish menu that would divide the states into 25 states per column. I've never seen one like that, but I would think it would be possible to make one. I might fool around with that idea at a later date. Right now, I'm really happy with what we hammered out here. Thanks a ton!

Pete




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