What Is the Purpose of a Sitemap? – About Sitemaps

September 30, 2010 by  Filed under: SEO 

First, what is a sitemap? A sitemap is a simple list of the URL’s that allow your visitors to navigate through your website and enables Google to easily trace and acknowledge the full breadth of your webpage and sub-pages (nodes). URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator. It is a set of codes surrounding a URN (Uniform Resource Name–the name of the website you want to visit) causing search engines to look for that address, then take you there. A URN is like the address on a letter, while the URL is the postal system from beginning to end that delivers the letter to your address, even if it is just next door. A sitemap lists these URL’s, linking your pages together in an unbroken chain so that Search Engines can easily list all of the pages associated with your website, a process known as “indexing”.

Why should I get indexed? If Google or Yahoo or Bing properly indexes your website, they will store all of the URL’s listed on your site in one place and should list every one of your pages and sub-pages (nodes). If not, then you are losing potential visitors to your nodes. For example, you may have a phrase in the “about” page of your website like, “John has been detailing autos since 1952…” Google could take that phrase and list it in the body of a Google listing IN ADDITION TO other listings that lead to your “home” page, thereby resulting in multiple listings. But if your “about” page is not indexed then you missed the opportunity to have multiple listings. Another reason for a sitemap is that some visitors prefer to go directly to a sitemap in order to go directly to their preferred destination. This is especially helpful for more complex websites.

Who should provide a sitemap? Anybody who has a website or blog, whether it is simple or complex, and desires to maximize the potential for visitors to his or her site. In most cases providing a sitemap will not make a huge difference. Some people believe that a small website with just a few pages does not need a sitemap. For example, Tom Hilton, of Velvet Blues – Web Design & Development, says that only larger more complex websites require a sitemap. In general Tom is correct; however, snafu’s happen. I recently checked my own office equipment repair website to make sure it was properly indexed and what do you know? My “Rates” page was missing from the list. I promptly checked my Yahoo search engine and found out that it too was not complete. So I followed the instructions on Yahoo, authenticating my website and behold, only a week later, Google listed my missing “Rates” page as well. It appeared to me that Google looks at other search engines as a springboard to complete its own indexing.

How do I check to see if my site is properly indexed? Type the following in the Google search tab as if you were typing a question:


Hit “search”. All of the pages and sub-pages of your website should be listed. If not, try following Yahoo’s authentication steps on that same page. This may clear things up with other search engines as well. Otherwise, keep on researching this topic and learn how to install and register a sitemap with Google. If you are blogging, consult your blog site for instructions on how to provide a sitemap for your blog. If your website is complex, you may want to get software that automatically revises your sitemap. This is especially useful if you frequently update your pages.

Providing a sitemap will ensure that your website is properly indexed by search engines. It may not make a significant difference in your web performance, but is one potentially helpful step toward search engine optimization. Besides, maybe Donald Trump will end up on your “About” page looking for a new toupee.

Improving Website Ranking?

Mike Edwards has been repairing office equipment since 1983, beginning in San Diego and now in SLO County, California. His website is http://www.Accuteksite.com. Michael and his wife, Shay, have expanded their efforts to including online marketing. For SEO tips find his Squidoo lens by clicking the link above labeled “Improving Website Ranking”

Tom Hilton’s site is http://www.velvetblues.com.

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Michael Richard Edwards - EzineArticles Expert Author

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