As a follow up to Site Maps 101, we present Matt’s top best (and worst) practices for getting the most out of your site map.
10 Best Site Map Practices:
- First and foremost, every web site needs a site map to tell the search engines where each of your site’s pages are located.
- You must link to each page of the site with text links.
- Each text link must use the keyword for the page you are linking to from the site map to create relevancy.
- The keyword used needs to be a research and strategically determined keyword that is relevant to your customers and is searched. Check out our Toolbox for our favorite keyword research sites.
- Wrap text around the link to engage the SE spiders to crawl the additional content before going to the page.
- Update your site map regularly as you update your site’s pages. If you make updates daily then Google will most likely index your new changes daily and therefore you can get a jump on page rank.
- Place a link to the site map ONLY on the homepage
- Generate an XML site map to Google so that you can track traffic via Google Webmaster Central (it doesn’t hurt, it’s a smart tool, and it’s free!)
- Keep site maps simple – just text links – no frills or images needed for the SE’s – function over form.
- For larger sites (over 25 pages) generate an HTML as well as a XML site map. Use the HTML for usability by the user, and for SEO Purposes use the XML for accurate and regular Google indexing.
10 Bad Site Map No-No’s:
- Not having a site map is like telling the search engine spiders to NOT crawl or look at your site.
- Not using a “relevant keyword” for the link text will allow the SE spider to get disinterested and leave. (Example: “myrtle beach vacation rental” is link text that goes to a page about “myrtle beach history” – not good…)
- Without proper keyword research prior to optimization, the chance that you use just any old keyword will hurt your chances of ever being found by SE’s, and therefore your customers.
- Not wrapping text around your site map link doesn’t give the SE spider any “food to eat” – give them more to chew on rather than less.
- Not updating both your site map and your pages gives a confusing message to the spider and you risk the chance of them leaving your site and only indexing a portion of your whole site.
- Placing a link to the site map on every page creates duplicity for the SE’s.
- Not uploading an XML site map won’t hurt you, but why not use a free and fabulous tool to get indexing services from Google?
- Aesthetically pleasing (graphical images) site maps do not score well with the SE’s – text is what they want to see!
- Since Google is the #1 SE in the world, it doesn’t make sense to not use their free services to help your site gain more relevance, increase your rankings, and connect with customers.