What is one of the most important SEO goals for your Web site? Getting all of the pages indexed within the search engines. The biggest problem that most search engines face is finding all of the links buried deep within the structure of your site. The one simple solution is to create a sitemap. This provides one central location for the search engines to find links to all pages on your site.
To start at the beginning, a sitemap displays the inner framework and organization of your Web site’s page layout. This can be a series of links on a page that list all pages of your site and is thought of as an extension of your site. A simple solution is to layout the sitemap to reflect the way visitors may intuitively view your Web site. Create details for each section and sub-section through descriptive text placed under the sitemap link.
Sitemaps also offer you a way to submit all the pages within your Web site to the search engines. By submitting a sitemap, search engines can more intelligently crawl your Web site. Google, Yahoo! and MSN have the option to submit a sitemap of your Web site. The thing to keep in mind is that each of these search engines has specific requirements and it is best to supply a sitemap that is specific to each of the search engines.
The search engines use a sitemap that is set up in XML format. There are several tools on the internet that can assist you with putting together a sitemap in XML format. Do a keyword search using the term “XML sitemap” and a large list of tools will be provided. Then simply go to the search engines that you would like to submit your sitemap and follow the process that is listed. You will see that each is very similar but be sure to follow the instructions closely to provide the information needed for each search engine.
If you prefer not to submit your sitemap directly to a specific search engine, you can provide an XML sitemap on your site that is easily read by the search engines. This particular sitemap is called an ROR sitemap, which is basically a generic way to describe the content of your Web site so search engines can better understand. Do a keyword search using the term “ROR sitemap” and a list of tools will be provided. Most of the tools provide instructions on how to add to your site.
The main thing to remember about sitemaps is that every Web site should have a sitemap for the purpose of SEO and to help visitors navigate your Web site. Also, remember to update the sitemap. This I cannot emphasize more. Any changes to your Web site need to be reflected on the sitemap.