A “sitemap is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users. 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 website, typically organized in hierarchical fashion” – Wikipedia.
There should be a lot of thought and consideration that goes into building your site. While design is important, your sitemap is equally ranked. Don’t rush through it just to get something up there. Get in the mindset of your target audience. What are they searching for in order to find what you have to offer? When they go to the site, what is their goal and how can you best direct them to find it with ease? Once you’ve established a strong page flow, create the content to support it.
If you already have a site, is it hard to navigate? Are you showing up in the search engines for all the services you offer? If you find yourself questioning these items then it may be time to reassess your site structure and page flow. We can’t say it enough “content is king”….and it really is. How else do you expect Google to find your site if you aren’t providing the content to back what you have to offer? That being said, if you have the content and still aren’t getting the SEO results or lead follow through that you’d expect then it might be the layout. Let’s go through the basics of proper flow on a site and what makes both the search engines and end users happy.
Do you have a simple and easy to navigate menu? Is it clearly labeled so users aren’t fishing around for what they want? Keep it simple, don’t try to re-invent the wheel, don’t try to be clever with titles that leave them guessing. Start with your primary navigation, what do you want to showcase on your site? What are the primary reasons your visitors are coming to it? Include those in the main categories then break it down from there.
Home | About | Services | Portfolio | Resources | Blog | Contact
Once you’ve established your primary pages, break down the logical sub-pages. This brings us to the next item.
Break down your pages in a sensible manner. Yes, we said to keep it simple BUT, don’t go too simple. Your website should be a summary of your business. That being said, you want to give them enough to feel satisfied in understanding what you offer and the quality you bring. At the same time leaving enough out so that they still need to call you to get the final info needed to follow through. First thing to consider when deciding how you want to organize your pages is what makes sense for what your target audience is looking for. If you offer a variety of services, show those under your “Services” page so they can easily spot it. The second thing to keep in mind is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). When looking at SEO, each page on your site can be organically optimized with an SEO Title, Meta Description, Permalink and Keyword Focus. What’s important to note is that each page can only have ONE keyword focus. If you try to keep minimal subpages by listing categories all together, you may find you are shorting yourself in the SEO department.
What you need to do….1. Clearly think through what you want to focus. What keywords do you want to be found for, what services do you want to showcase? Once you’ve determined that, then you can create your sitemap accordingly. If there are similar services/categories that can be combined on one page and a strong keyword focus covers them both, do it! If there are services/categories that are different entities and need individual explanation then create a page for each one. This will keep users happy by seeing a clear navigation directing them to the area they are looking for. This will also allow you to have appropriate keyword focuses throughout your site.
Finally it’s time for content.
General rule of thumb to keep Google happy is having a minimum of 300 words per page. This is the minimum amount of content to establish your keyword focus within the content. If you have less than that you may want to combine it with another page as it’s simply not enough to be on its own. If you have a long list of items important enough to focus on, create strong content to support them.
Keeping the end user happy consists of a site map that flows accordingly with your content. Provide enough content for them to feel satisfied that doesn’t require more than 30 seconds of reading to find what they wanted. 300 words is the “minimum” but you don’t need much more than that. If your pages are too long you’ll find people are getting lost in the content, bored, or frustrated and simply moving on. Again, give them enough to feel satisfied but not too much that they don’t need to follow through.
Pulling in a successful sales lead should be the goal to proper site flow. Remember to maintain an easy navigation as you grow your site. Don’t let it fall apart over time, avoid the mistake of adding more and more pages and links that can lead to confusion and unnecessary content. If you need to add a new page because you’ve added a new focus then go for it. If you just want to enhance, edit or add to something that already exists then do so within the pages that are there.