Sitemaps, as the name implies, are just a map of your site which includes one single page of your website, its sections, the links between them, etc. Sitemaps make navigating your site easier and having an updated sitemap on your site is good both for your users and for search engines. Sitemaps are an important way of communication with search engines.
Sitemaps are always been part of best Web design practices but with the adoption of sitemaps by search engines, now they become even more important. If you are interested in sitemaps from a SEO point of view, then it is not always beneficial. For example, Google Sitemaps use a special (XML) format that is different from the ordinary html sitemap for human visitors.
Why to Use a Sitemap
Sitemaps are used not only for easier navigation and better visibility by search engines but they also offer the opportunity to inform search engines immediately about any changes on your site.
Sitemaps also help in classifying your site content
Generating and Submitting the Sitemap
To create a sitemap, the steps you have to perform are simple. First, you need to generate it, then you upload it to your site, and finally you notify Google about it.
Depending on your technical skills, there are two ways to generate a sitemap - to download and install a sitemap generator or to use an online sitemap generation tool. The first is more difficult but you have more control over the output. The second way to generate a sitemap is easier.
After you have created the sitemap, you need to upload it to your site and notify Google about its existence.
Important points for a good site map
· The site map should be the simplest page on your web site.
· Do not give a fancy name to the site map link such as "Web Site Tree" - keep it as "Site map", this way your visitors understand immediately what you mean.
· You should always avoid "dynamic" site maps.
· If the site map is list of text links, be sure to use the TITLE attribute of the anchor tag and include keywords inside it.
· It is a good idea to put a sentence describing the page contents below the link for that page on a site map.
· A site map should not be the primary navigation on your web site it should complement it.
· A link to the site map page is very important and all pages should carry this link. The site map link can be included with other links in the main menu on your web site or placed at a section on the web page from which it is clearly visible.
· Another importance of sitemaps is a web site should complement of it. For example, the link color for visited links should be different from that of non-visited links so that visitors understand which pages they have already seen and thus, save time.