1. Why a sitemap is essential for your website?
A sitemap that is built with clear objectives could be the determining factor in the success of a website, providing a vital link between it and the search engines, and fostering the user experience that is fundamental to the site’s conversion process. Sitemaps are nothing new and have long been part of web design best practice. However, with the adoption of sitemaps by search engines, they have now become even more important and it is even more necessary to design them accurately.
A well-structured sitemap will make it easier for all search engines to find your website, providing users with more accurate search results when searching for keywords associated with your industry content. On the other hand, the Robots (.txt) tells the search engine what part of the website it should not include for indexing, and the sitemap tells these search engines where you want them to go.
Think of the website crawlers that search engines use as relying on sitemaps to point them in the right direction of the website the user is looking for (WebConfs, 2018). We will look at this later.
Designing a new website can be an overwhelming process, made more complicated by the volume of content that needs to be organised and incorporated into it. A sitemap can be an effective planning tool that helps to organise and clarify the content that needs to be on your pages, as well as eliminate any unnecessary pages. In addition, a well-designed sitemap provides a pleasant experience for visitors, which leads to more conversions, hence the importance of implementing it..
2. Why you should always redefine your goals?
According to The UX Review, designing a sitemap before building your website can clarify your website’s goals and help you define them. Every website should have a clear primary objective, without this, you can often lose the purpose of each page and turn your site into a difficult to navigate channel with a poor user experience. In this case, your users will be left wondering, “where am I?” or “how did I get here?”
2.1. The navigation of your website should always be clear, so as not to confuse your users and make it easier for them to consume content.
For this reason, the sitemap is a good tool to help you make sense of the hierarchy of your content and to clarify what purpose each page serves before you start designing or creating content. By deciding exactly what purpose each page of your website serves, you can focus your efforts on fulfilling them, eliminating unnecessary elements that are not directly related to this purpose, before they become an integral part of the site architecture.
2.2. A site without a specific goal or purpose is more difficult to navigate and ruins the user experience.
The visitor is left wondering what to do after interacting with your content. The ideal path your user should follow, according to their information consumption process, should be reflected in this sitemap. Each page of your website should reinforce your main objective and any page that is not linked to this objective should be cut off. Avoid clutter and confusion.
3. Why is it essential for your SEO?
There are many SEO on Page practices that can help you optimise your website, and creating a sitemap is one more fundamental practice. As mentioned above, it is important to the web crawling robots of search engines such as Google, as it allows them to calculate the number of web pages, analyse what these consist of and how often your site is updated. So if you make changes to your site, the sitemap informs the search engine of the alteration, and the change is indexed faster than it would have been without it (WesFed, 2018).
Since your sitemap contains a link to every page within the website, when the search engine robot reaches it, it can index all the pages, which increases the likelihood that they will appear when the user makes a query. In addition, Google favours websites that incorporate a search engine optimised sitemap. If your pages are not indexed it will be difficult for you to attract organic traffic.
Think also that the sitemap should be linked to your homepage. This makes it easier for search engines to find and follow it. If it is linked from other pages, the search engine may simply leave. Also, many SEO experts agree that you should not include more than 40 links, as this could confuse visitors and generate search engine suspicion. A good sitemap shows a quick overview of your website, uses important keywords, provides an easy path for search engine robots to follow and quickly shows users where they should be.
3. In short, what are the advantages of a sitemap?
Using sitemaps can bring many benefits to your business and range from easier navigation and better search engine visibility. Here are some examples:
- Topic clarification: Have you ever wandered aimlessly through a site, navigating page after page, wondering what the point of what they want to offer you is? The sitemap, i.e. the hierarchy of your website’s navigation helps the user to better understand the services and products you offer. Your sitemap also helps your developers when they have to add a new section (e.g. a new product), as they can see the basics of the site and take into account the current structure, while maintaining the organisation of the site.
- Reducing broken links: If your site has broken, missing or incorrect internal links, crawl reports can be picked up immediately with the help of sitemaps. While the problem needs to be fixed as soon as possible, sitemaps can offer a temporary solution and help in the meantime.
- Sitemaps can also be used as a temporary solution.
- Streamlining the conversion funnel: In the process of converting users on your website, it is best to have a minimum number of steps. The more steps, the greater the chance that visitors will leave the site without completing their purchase or registration. Use your sitemap to work out which steps are necessary, combining them where possible. A visual representation, such as a flowchart, can make it easier to simplify the buying process for your users.
- Improved ranking: Only by optimising and monitoring the changes you make to your SEO strategy can you maintain the ranking of your URLs in search engines. Therefore, if you have used a sitemap creator or manually created a sitemap in your Search Console account, the search engine will be alerted every time the content of your pages is modified.
- Helps start-ups: The main reason you invest time and money in creating new content for your website is that you expect consumers to discover it sooner or later. Especially for start-ups that have just landed on the web, being aware of the structure of your sitemap is crucial.
- It saves time: With your sitemap in Search Console you can warn Google that you have included new content, reindexing the page. So you don’t have to wait for the engine spiders to decide to crawl your website again. It is the most optimal way to update your content.
- Decipher your visitors’ behaviour: You can learn a lot by monitoring your sitemap reports. You can receive notifications of errors to fix, as well as where your traffic is coming from and through which keywords. Using this information can help you to improve your content and attract more visitors to your website.
- Gather teams and align them: A website is not created by just one person in your team, so the sitemap can help everyone involved (from creatives to your marketing and sales departments) be on the same page and show their input to improve the structure, according to each other’s knowledge. For this reason, a sitemap is not a static tool and can change as your business progresses. The sitemap can serve as a clearinghouse for tracking what has been completed, what still needs work, and what progress has been made.