What is a Site Map?
A site map is one page of a web site that lists all of the pages (URL’s) for that particular web site and to each page of the site. The structure of a site map is typically in an outline form listing the web pages within related categories or themes.
Most web sites that do have a site map just list every page in the form of a link from the “home page” down to the “contact us” page with no flare or logical order. Site maps are typically left alone with no existing optimization and are just merely part of the site’s architecture.
The Evolution of the Site Map
Google first introduced the site map in June of 2005 and then it was not until the next year that Yahoo! and MSN joined with Google to recognize the fact that site maps are needed for individual web sites to submit their site’s pages to the search engines.
Google’s size limit for a site map is 50,000 URL’s which, to me, is more than enough. I, personally, have not worked on any site that has more than a few hundred pages so leave it to mighty Google to give us way more bandwidth than we will ever need.
XML vs. HTML Site Map
An XML site map is a version that Google likes to use almost exclusively. With Google being the #1 search engine out there and growing by the day, why not adhere to their guidelines and best practices. An XML site map has a very beneficial feature called the “priority tag” which tells the search engines what pages are most important therefore indexing and crawling those pages first.
Those priority pages would probably be the “home” page, the “vacation rentals” page, etc… Any page that you would like the search engines to see first and foremost (your “money pages”) would get tagged. This allows the webmaster to control what pages the search engines can see and index.
First of all, HTML is the predominant format of use for the internet. HTML incorporates and allows design and graphical features for web page creation and is not very strict in its guidelines according to the search engines. In the most basic sense, an HTML site map is created for the purpose of visual aesthetics and an XML site map focuses more on the technical side of things like getting the search engines to notice a web site’s site map. This is done by initiating a crawl and therefore indexing the whole site which is essential for search engine rankings. XML also covers more of a wide spectrum of uses and flexibility which means eventually HTML will fade away.
This example shows an HTML site map in the traditional vertical format with each link representing a page of the web site – HTML Site Map
This example shows an XML site map or Google site map – XML Site Map. This XML file is uploaded to the search engines along with the HTML site map. Notice the “priority tag” and the numeric value associated with it. The range of priority starts with 0.0, then 0.1 and so on up to 1.0 with 1.0 being the most important. Pages after the “most important” page should decrease in the numeric value as the pages decrease in importance.
What to do if I do not have a Site Map?
Okay, that is the easy part! Give us a call at 888.840.5893 or visit us Online.
Next time I will dig a bit deeper into Site Maps and what they can do for your web site’s overall success.