Creating a Sitemap for an Search Engine Optimized Website

You may not realize how important your website’s sitemap actually is to your search engine optimization purposes. The difference between a website ranking well for certain keywords and one that isn’t is often because of a poorly designed or infrequently updated sitemap. Search-engines such as Google and Yahoo reward sites with fresh and new content. Your sitemap allows them to quickly find those pages recently added to your site.

As far as search engine optimization strategy goes, think of your website’s sitemap as an outline of the entire thing. Structure it using the same hierarchy that you used when creating your website’s category and page structure. Begin with the homepage and then build out from there. All of the major subsections plus your company information page and privacy policy page would link to the homepage. All subsequent pages are then placed and categorized under that subsection in your sitemap as well.

Once a sitemap is created, create a link for it on your homepage. The next time your site is crawled by the search engines, they will find the sitemap and have easy access to each page of your site. Search engines can still crawl and index each page without a sitemap but that also means your site must have a comprehensive and perfectly designed structure. A sitemap leaves no doubt that all of your pages will be properly indexed. While it is not necessary, try naming the sitemap either sitemap.html or sitemap.php. This helps the search-engines recognize that the file is indeed a sitemap.

Another great benefit of a sitemap is that it also gives users a place to find a particular section or category they are looking for without getting lost within the website’s many pages. Let’s face it, you can design a great looking and easy to follow internal linking structure, but sometimes users will have a difficult time finding exactly what they are looking for. An updated sitemap helps users understand the website layout, and gives them a quick access tool for all of the pages contained within the site.

Brad Anderson

Brad Anderson is the founder and CEO of Fruition. Brad combined his passion for marketing, technology, innovation and data-based decision making into a successful national digital marketing agency when he created the Denver-based Fruition. Brad brings the unique perspective of an expert marketer, board member, agency owner and entrepreneur to his career and his thought-leadership writing.