Site Maps

Description: Every website should be as easy as possible for visitors to negotiate. While a clear and simple layout goes a long way towards achieving this, it's also vital to have a site map so that visitors can find what they are looking for quickly and easily.

If you've ever been searching for information on a website and been unable to find it, you'll know how frustrating it can be. The natural thing to do in this situation is to look for a site map - and if you don't find one you would be forgiven for wanting to leave the site altogether in favor of one that is more user friendly.

If you have ever been in any doubt of the importance of having a site map, the above example should solve the problem. A site map is an essential part of any website, regardless of how many pages the site may contain overall. It makes the site easier to navigate and keeps the visitor at the forefront of the whole website experience.

You can also create an XML Sitemap that is specifically designed to make it easier for search engines such as Google to crawl the whole of your site. This isn't a required point however, and it's certainly more important to make sure your visitors are well taken care of first.

Creating a site map can be quite a daunting process, especially if you have quite a large website. There are a few websites online that offer a free sitemap creation service if you prefer to pass the responsibility on to someone else.

Depending on how big your website is the structure of your site map may vary in complexity. For example if you only have a dozen or so different pages then it is quite sufficient to list them one after the other, with every link being clickable so as to allow visitors to go directly to the page they require.

If your site has lots of pages however it's a good idea to break them down into sections to make the site map easier to navigate. For example if your site is based on the subject of world history you might have a separate section heading for each region of the world. ?If necessary you could then break each region down into separate countries, with each one having a subheading followed by a list of links to more specific pages after that. It's worth trying a few different solutions to see which one works the best.

Site maps also make it easier for visitors to find pages that they may not otherwise see. For this reason it can be useful to let them know there is a site map they can use if they wish. The primary objective of any site map should always be to help visitors find what they are looking for, which is why it's worth taking the time to get it just right.

In short, your site map needs to be clear and easy to understand, and it needs to link to all the other pages of your website. In this sense it's also a form of optimizing your site for the search engines, because internal links within a website are just as important as inbound and outbound links. They help to direct the search engine spiders to crawl the site more efficiently, ensuring nothing important is missed in the process.

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