SEO and Site Maps
Using Site Structure to Speak to Search Engines and Users
Gone are the days when site maps were begrudgingly placed in a website’s
navigation only as an after-thought or last-minute courtesy to web surfers.
Content maps have become a standard practice for webmasters, web surfers and
search engines alike, thus, can have a major impact on
search engine optimization (SEO),
usability and site planning.
Speaking to the Heart of Search Engines
Although search engines don’t have heart, they do have a heart-beat: their
Search engines scour the web based on their proprietary set of logic-based
algorithms which determine what, when, where and how they find webpages. Although
no one knows the exact algorithms the big search engines employ, it’s possible to make educated guesses based
on a variety of tests. Testing is important as it provides insight into where
search engines are placing value.
Based on a number of site map tests internally conducted by Stand Marketing, search engines seem to have a penchant
towards website maps. If one were to make a guess as to why, they might say that search engines have been
to look at a site's detailed 'table of contents' to get an accurate impression
of a site’s content. After all, search engine's goals are to find
and logically categorize the web's content.
From a people perspective, internet users
have also become conditioned to go straight to the site map if they can’t find
the information they are looking for within a few seconds. This behaviour is
similar to and likely derived from our conditioning around calling major
companies with long and convoluted phone trees. Due to the time we have to wait
for the robotic voice on the other end to get to the reason we’re calling, most
people just press “0” to speak with an operator and get their request handled in
a timely manner.
The point is, the web is an instantaneous medium and we’ve been conditioned to
use it based on its efficiencies and our interaction with other communication tools.
we automatically press “0” to get information quickly via phone, we do the same
with site maps. Is your website's map ready to provide instantaneous
Anther benefit to site maps is the natural organization they bring to one’s
planning and site structure. Many web professionals are finding that starting a
website with the site map is a far greater organization tactic than waiting to
produce one at the end.
Therefore, if you want your website's map to speak to the heart of search engines,
to the behaviours of users and to the organization of
your site structure, then embrace the basic yet useful benefits.
By Trish McCloy, writing for Stand Marketing, a Vancouver Internet Marketing Company.
For more information on site maps and SEO, check out our list of
search engine promotion services.