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A site map is a map that shows every part of your website in a single page to make it easier to navigate. A site map page will contain all the links of each Web page based on your chosen hierarchy. Just think of site maps as sign posts (human-readable HTML format) that would show website visitors where they are and where to go next. Site maps can also take a search engine-readable form (XML format) to allow search engines to crawl through the site's individual pages.
It takes a little bit of work to create site maps the first time. However, there are significant benefits to creating one, for both the site owner and its users. Why should you incorporate sitemaps within your website? What is in it for you?
1. Easy Navigation for Website Visitors
There is nothing like getting lost within a website to keep visitors from coming back. That's why it's important for your site visitors to be able to know exactly where they are. Your visitors should also be able to have a way to get to the pages they are interested in without going through it one page at a time.
Since a site map lists all the Web pages on your site in a hierarchical fashion, any visitor who accesses it would be able to determine the current location on the site and where else to go. Site maps therefore allow people to navigate easily from one section of the site to another. By removing this source of frustration, you will be able to maintain the interest of your target on your site.
2. Easy Indexing By Search Engines
Google and other search engines need to index your site regularly. It is the only way for your pages to be ranked and get listed on search engine results pages (SERPs).
At times, search engine robots may fail to visit your site fully. This may happen if some of your links lead the robots away from your site to another. As a result, some of your Web pages may not be indexed and they won't show up on search engines results pages.
What site maps (XML format) do is offer you the chance to list the URLs of all your Web pages to get them indexed. You can update the site maps as regularly as you do your site content.
With each link on your site map connecting to a Web page, there will be more opportunities for search engine robots to crawl through your site and index every page. This in turn will increase the number of times your pages show up on SERPs. Your overall site ranking would improve, thus enabling you to bring in more website visitors.
3. Easy Navigation For You
The creation of a human-readable site map also works to your advantage. By creating your site map, you would be able to view all your Web page titles in one place. Should you also want to access these pages to update content on your site, it would be very easy for you to do so.
Site maps do take some effort to create and update. However, the benefits of creating site maps for both your website visitors and search engines are well worth the effort. The convenience these maps will offer you is also worth considering. Talk about a win-win situation all round!