OK, so some of you will be asking “what the hell is a site map?”.  Some of you may be sitting feeling smug knowing you have a site map already.  But what is a site map and what does it do for you?

Put simply, a site map is a page on a website that lists every link/page on your website.  It is a “map” for both users and search engines to make it easy to decide which page to visit.

There are resources out there that will tell you that you simply MUST have a site map!  But let us take a quick look at the purpose of a site map to search engines.

I think it may help here to explain a tiny bit about how Google ‘finds’ pages and sites on the  internet.  I will try and keep this simple as the Google Algorithms are extremely complex!  To get from page to page the ‘Google spider’ (a program Google users to ‘read’ the pages on your website), emulates a human being – it follows a link.  So, if your site has five pages and each page has a link from the main menu (which appears on every page), Google simply follows the menu links and discovers all five pages … simple.

So, now to answer our question, “does my website need a site map?”.  Maybe!  OK, so that answer didn’t help!  Let’s qualify it.  If your website has under say, 100 pages, has a navigation system that is clear and links to every page then you probably don’t need a site map.  Google is smart enough to find all your pages on its own.

On the other hand, if your website is vast, complicated and has more than three levels of links, then you definitely need a site map as Google needs a hand with larger sites to make sure it doesn’t miss a vital page.

In summary,  a well designed website for the average small business doesn’t need a site map.  It is much better to think about your visitor’s journey through your website and design simple, obvious, user friendly navigation.

Like most of our blog posts,  this one was written after a conversation with one of our clients.  If you have a question you would like us to cover in future blog posts then please get in touch.