Sitemap: Building the a clear way to navigate your site

Sitemap: Building the a clear way to navigate your site

18 Apr 2014
| Last update: 20 Mar 2015
Alexandra Nicola

Alexandra Nicola

Content Writer at Squirrly.co
Bringing happiness while typing Blog Articles at Squirrly
Alexandra Nicola

You have been finding out from us what are some important elements to get people on your site, how to build great content, and now we are going to talk about how to organize it in a sitemap. You might have been wondering for a some time which is the best way to make people search through more information on your site. Well that is an easy one, you need a clear navigation path for your readers. Making sure that your site has a clean walk through is established through your sitemap.

In this article we will talk more about why a site map is important, how it can be done and a few principles to help you along the way. Understanding that beside building great content you need to take the time to get everything sorted out in your sitemap will pay off from a Bot and Human stand point. Getting all this done in logical fashion will make it easier for your future work as well. Having a clear structure will also give a holistic view over your content.


Why focus on a Sitemap?

A sitemap is a list of pages of a website accessible to crawlers or users. It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for Web design, or a Web page that lists the pages on a site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion.

Search engines care about having a sitemap because it gives them an order inside the information you offer in your site. This can very well direct them to pages that otherwise they would never discover. If you make sure that you create one and submit it to Google, you will make the indexing better and quicker for new pages, as the crawling will go beyond the normal process.
This is quite important if you own a blog on which you write on a regular basis or if you are in the first steps of building the site and the structure is changing. If you have a big disorganized archive taking the time to create a structured sitemap will come in handy. Dynamic content and structure might make it hard for Google’s spiders to find everything but giving them the site map before hand will make it easier for them and better for you. So even if you build awesome articles but not even crawlers can’t find them, it’s quite in vein because people won’t find them either.
For readers establishing a sitemap that they can access is also important. You need to make sure that the are able to understand you structure and know where to find the right information or documents. If they can not find it easily and don’t even understand where they should be searching for it they will give up faster than you think. The user experience requires for the people to find the information in fewer tasks as possible.
sitemap

Building one

There a number of protocols but I do recommend you the XML schema. If you want to build it manually, use the helping information form sitemaps.org. This will make sure that your web sites structure will be understood by Google, Bing and Yahoo. Of course the other formats are expected by the search engines but there is also the possibility that problems will appear.

If your taking care of your own site and writing all that code doesn’t quite come in handy you can use a site to generate the XML Site map and then just submit it to Google through your Webmaster account.

Keep in mind

As I promised a at the start of this articles I will present a few principles that you should keep in mind when building your site map in order to make it work for a long time for your site.

  • Put your buy persona first

Wake up with new leads from the content you publish.

 

As I have presented in an older article, you need to get to know your audience and establish what each group needs from you. This is called establishing the buyer persona, that use your site or blog. When building a site you should start from them and understand which is the flow you want to take them through in order to get to the end result they were searching for. So the main structure of the Sitemap should be determined buy the number of buyer persona you have identified and they different navigations paths.

  • Navigation should be intuitive not simple

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not promoting very complicated site maps that have weird connection between pages and information. You have to focus on creating an environment that is that necessary simple, but rather one that is easy to access for them. Meaning that the logic that you find for the site, might not concise with the one that your visitors have. Walk a mile in their shoes to make sure that it makes sense for them or ask a few of them and use their feedback.

  • Make it adaptable for the future

You need to understand the evolution of your site before you pin down a sitemap. It would be best that the structure of your site doesn’t change to often as your user appreciate a sense of consistency. They might also bookmark different pages for future reference and if you change the structure to often this will mean that will not find the same info again. Make sure you know where future articles, updates to pages and other elements will be integrated in the site map before they are even created.

Organized information has a higher rate of retention

In the end, you need to remember that Sitemaps help you in your SEO work in many different ways. They help Bot better understand your site and there for index it better. It is also an important element for your user in order to get more information on different subject from multiple pages on your site.

If you need any other information about Sitemap or want to tell us how you have build your own, please leave a comment bellow.