Site map

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A site map of what links from the English Wikipedia's Main Page.
Sitemap of Google

A site map (or sitemap) is a representation of the architecture of a web site.[1] It can be either a document in any form used as a planning tool for web design, or a web page that lists the pages on a web site, typically organized in hierarchical fashion. This helps visitors and search engine bots find pages on the site.

While some developers argue that site index is a more appropriately used term to relay page function, web visitors are used to seeing each term and generally associate both as one and the same. However, a site index is often used to mean an A-Z index that provides access to particular content, while a site map provides a general top-down view of the overall site contents.


[edit] Benefits of sitemaps

Site maps can improve search engine optimization of a site by making sure that all the pages can be found. This is especially important if a site uses Adobe Flash or JavaScript menus that do not include HTML links.

They also act as a navigation aid [2] by providing an overview of a site's content at a single glance.

Most search engines will only follow a finite number of links from a page, so if a site is very large, the site map may be required so that search engines and visitors can access all content on the site.

[edit] XML sitemaps

Google introduced Google Sitemaps so web developers can publish lists of links from across their sites. The basic premise is that some sites have a large number of dynamic pages that are only available through the use of forms and user entries. The sitemap files can then be used to indicate to a web crawler how such pages can be found.
Google, MSN, Yahoo and Ask now jointly support the Sitemaps protocol.

Since MSN, Yahoo, Ask, and Google use the same protocol[3], having a sitemap lets the four biggest search engines have the updated page information. Sitemaps do not guarantee all links will be crawled, and being crawled does not guarantee indexing. However, a sitemap is still the best insurance for getting a search engine to learn about your entire site.[4]

XML sitemaps have replaced the older method of "submitting to search engines" by filling out a form on the search engine's submission page. Now web developers submit a sitemap directly, or wait for search engines to find it.

[edit] See also

  • Help:Contents/Site_map, Wikipedia site map
  • User experience, how site maps fit into the user experience design process
  • Sitemaps, a standard for URL inclusion
  • Biositemap, a protocol for broadcasting and disseminating information about computational biology resources (data, software tools and web-services).
  • PowerMapper, tool for automatically creating site maps with thumbnails for each page

[edit] References

  1. ^ Peter Morville, Information Architecture on the World Wide Web, Feb 1998, pp:58
  2. ^ Site Map Usability Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox, August 12, 2008
  3. ^ Specification of the common XML format
  4. ^ Joint announcement from Google, Yahoo, MSN supporting Sitemaps

[edit] External links

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