|Benefits of a site map|
Currently - I have a site that the PR is distributed fairly. How I did it was I made the site 'flat'. In other words, my site has 80 pages, each page contains 80 links to each other.
My home page is PR5
The other 79 pages are PR4
One problem. The pages look clutered.
Will a sitemap on every page do the same as above?
|Will a sitemap on every page do the same as above? |
Although, a sitemap won't result in exactly the same distribution, you should be able to modify the structure in such a way that it results in a nearly flat distribution (for the 79 pages).
Using a different structure is probably the best for the users. However, there might be a disadvantage because you are loosing internal anchor text.
By the way, if you are interested in a flat distribution for your whole site, external links should go to different pages and not only to your home page.
One technique we have had some success with is picking more than one page that acts as a PR anchor page and then it passes on PR to other pages in the site. These anchor pages are the ones we concentrate on when we get incoming links.
Not only does this flatten and disseminate PR, but it also leads to a more resilient site if one of the designated pages is beaten out in the search engines for some reason.
I'm a bit puzzled with the concern about with how PR is distributed within a site. Typically the index page ends up with PR +1 over other pages if you simply make it navigable for a user. Deep pages are likely to be landed on with highly targetted searches and will therefore be high in the SERPs anyway, so whether their PR is below the index page PR doesn't really matter.
That's my question.
Right now, my home page is PR5, with the entire sites remaining pages are PR4. The site is flat, as a user can access any page from any page on the site. Each page, in other words, is 'one click away'.
If I replace this flat layout with just a site map link on everypage, wouldn't that make our current PR for every page except our home page PR3? (Two clicks away)
Do like WW: make your homepage your sitemap, especially if Florida squished it.
So you are building a sitemap and have very deep links. Much like the 80 links on each page the sitemap could be very long for me as well. How far would you go? For one site you could go possibly 5 levels deep.
Would 2 be enough or 3 perhaps or more/less? This would get the user to the more important categories and maybe not the individual widgets under them and help spread a good PR around as well as connect similar parts of a large site.
level 1: Home of Widgets
Level 2: Round Widgets
Level 3: Blue Round Widgets
Level 3: Red Round Widgets
Level 3: Yellow Round Widgets
Level 2: Square Widgets
Level 3: Blue Round Widgets
Level 3: Red Round Widgets
Level 3: Yellow Round Widgets
I think that linking every page to each other is the best way of distributing your PR. But it works only in small sites. As the number of pages increases, you have this problem of crowded pages. Making your home page your sitemap is a good idea, although you couldn’t link more than 100 pages. So, at the moment I would do nothing. But in the future the pages would get too much cluttered. Then I would create a navigation bar with two or three sections, but I would have a homepage with 80-100 links and would maintain a dense structure of internal links: each page would link to every page with the most related content. Another good advise is to obtain external links for your internal pages.
You are wasting your PR, and building an ugly site, if you have a flat structure with all the pages having the same PR.
You might be going for traffic on a keyphrase that requires a PR6, and also be going for a keyphrase where you can be competitive with a PR3. Why the heck would you want to have a flat PR4-5 in a case like that.
While worrying about keeping it flat, while trying to reach that PR6, you are needlessly pumping up that page that only needs a PR3. It takes a lot more links to make a 80 PR6 pages than it takes to make one.
>>>You are wasting your PR, and building an ugly site, if you have a flat structure with all the pages having the same PR.<<<
It depends on the market. If you have only one product, of course would be foolish distribute your PR. If you have 80 products, it would be foolish don’t distribute it.
>>my site has 80 pages, each page contains 80 links to each other.
Come to think of it you might pass as a directory these days, but it's suicide for your users. "Sitemaps" are not called "Pagemaps" for a reason. I think the homepage here deserves a closer post-FL look by some.
|If you have 80 products, it would be foolish don’t distribute it. |
You missed my point entirely.
It is not about distributing it or not distibuting it. It is about distributing it in a useful way, and avoiding a site that is ugly and turns users off.
Some search terms will require a good PR to rank well. Most will not. You will want to be able to give those keyphrases that require the high PR more than those that do not.
Like I said, if a keyphrase only requires a PR3 to make it to the top, why bother making it a PR5, when that extra PR will do you somme good in boosting your page that requires a PR6.
Also, if you have 80 products and you only have 80 pages, you are doing something wrong. Quit worrying about you nicely ballanced PR and get to writing additional information on any of those products that require more information. It would be a lot better way to spend your time.
Here is a page with a little light reading that might give you some ideas about how to go about setting up your navigation to really start reaping some rewards from having a balanced site, instead of having balanced PR.
There is a pagerank calculator tool which allows you to experiment with site linkage patterns and the effects on PR. The max number of pages is only 26, but it's a help. Can be found with a suitable Google search.
>>> While worrying about keeping it flat<<<
Look at the right bar on the home page of this forum. There are almost 50 sections (products) Why don’t distribute the home PR in a more balanced way?
It's very unlikely a flat structure where every page has the same PR will make sense. It also makes it impossible for you to adapt to new circumstances.
No matter what the widget, some of the 80 specific widget pages will benefit from having a bit more PR than the average, while some will not need as much PR as the average.
Because of dampening the sitemap link on every page is a very different scenario. In broadstrokes, your main page has a 100 value, the sitemap would then have an X value because of a link from the main page. Then all the 80 pages will link to and lget a link from these two pages. Currently the flat way, the main page is getting puny PR returned from the 80 pages, because it is just one of 80 links on those pages. Now with the sitemap page, each of the 80 pages would pass considerable PR to the main page and to the sitemap.
But then, what the heck is this sitemap page? You just made a page that presumably you wouldn't want showing up for serps basically ever (your main page would always be better), so in this way you are just wasting PR on that page for that page. Better to have two to ten section/directory pages that could gain search position on their own for *something*.
If your main page links to four mini-maps, and those each link to 20 pages, and those twenty pages each link to their mini-map and to the main page (and even to each other)... then you have the same concept as the sitemap, except you now have four mini-map pages that can rank on their own, *and* it gives you the ability to link from more than one mini-map to a few of your best producing pages among your 80. You don't have to use this flexibility, but now you do have it available.
|Look at the right bar on the home page of this forum. There are almost 50 sections (products) Why don’t distribute the home PR in a more balanced way? |
No, according to google (-arglebarglewoofwoof site:webmasterworld.com) there are 89,500 pages of WW in their index. Each of those pages would be a "product" in your example. But in fact the "forum index" is a list of "sections" (Private Forums, Teh Webmaster World, The Marketing World, etc.) and "subsections" (Google News, HTML and Browsers, etc.) as described in the "Themem Pyramids" paper that I referred you to.
This site is very, very far from being a flat structure.
The "products" on WW are the individual threads, not the forums, or groups of forums.
But you will notice that the index page does include links to some "products" that the site owner is particularly trying to "sell" in the "Webmaster World Highlighted Posts" section of the index page. That is how you boost the "products" that need an extra boost over the ones that do not.
Even real world stores give different importance to different items. You have the shelves by the checkout counter, you have end-caps on the aisles, amount of shelf space, and shelf height. You even combine items that might complement each other in the same section, like beer across from potato chips.
The Google forum has 1700+ backlinks.
The Yahoo and Directories ones have 300+.
AlltheWeb has 100+.
This site is anti-flat. And even though it is a bit coincidental, it is sending the necessary/appropriate link power to the various forums.
johnnydequino, I really would not worry *too* much about PR distribution. Just link like page together with links like "See also" etc. This will help with PR distribution, but more importantly help your visitors. A site map is a good thing for visitors and for googlebot, but not so good for distributing PR.
You will be running in circles trying to keep PR the same across all pages and missing out on more important factors. With only 80 pages I would channel energy into adding *much more people friendly content* and link each page to similar pages. When/if a page is not ranking too well point some more links to it to try and help.
I don’t defend a totally flat distribution of PR. That would be a particular and rare case in small sites and johnnydeaquino knows why he needs it. I defend that in the real world you usually need to distribute your PR "more than necessary" among different products:
“Sub-optimizing” the distribution of PR:
Every area of a company (or website) has its own “optimum” and usually the different “optimums” are not compatible. Marketing wants to increase the spending in advertising to optimize the market share of a product, but Finance wants to spend less to reduce the debt. Then, the company as a whole needs the best of two “sub-optimums”. Could you get the “optimum” PR for each product (or topic, concept, etc.) of your website? And what is “optimum” in that case? If you say that product A needs PR 6 and product B needs PR 3 in order to be competitive in the SERPS, you make implicit assumptions. 1) Surfers search for every product you sell. 2) Every product is sold in isolation competing in the SERPS. But suppose that the product B of the example is a new one, more profitable but less known than the product A (so very few potential customers search for it). If surfers arrive to your site searching for the product A and they could be interested in B, so it would be a good idea to include a link from product A to product B, although A leaks PR and B has now more PR than necessary. Even if you are now a bit less competitive in the market A, this “sub-optimum” could be much more profitable. Think about a site with lots of products (or ideas, topics, etc.). Some of them are well known, other unknown, some competitive in the SERPS, other not competitive, some profitable, other hardly profitable (but some of these attract traffic), etc. So you could design your site (and the internal structure of links) applying the concept of the layout of a supermarket. People arrive looking for a product, but you have much more to sell. Some products (or topics) works at the moment as “traffic attractors” and you have to drive that traffic to other profitable pages, maybe more profitable than the atractors. You should study your stats to determine the behavior of the visitors, paying special attention to their paths, and adjust your design to “optimize” the internal traffic (“sub-optimize”, because you can’t destroy your “attractors”). The result would be a quite intricated cross-linking, because it is determined mainly by the real behavior of the visitors, and a flatter distribution of PR.
I think we should be clear on the purpose of a site map.
The primary purpose is to provide a backup to the normal navigation system. It provides help to users who are lost, or can't find what they want. Users can also use it as a shortcut to other pages.
The secondary purpose is to provide a handy index to your site for search engines. GoogleGuy has often advised that a site should have a site map. He also recommends splitting it into separate pages with no more than 100 links per page.
If, as some advise, index pages in the normal navigation stream are used to replace the traditional site map, then the concept of a site map is lost. In effect you haven't got one.
The fact that a site map also distributes PR is incidental. Normally it has the effect of flattening site PR, but this can be mitigated to some extent. For instance you don't have to link to the site map(s) on all pages. Or you can have a group of site maps where they are all linked to from the home page, and also to each other, but each one only serves a specific area of the site. Whatever suits the site best.
>>If, as some advise, index pages in the normal navigation stream are used to replace the traditional site map, then the concept of a site map is lost. In effect you haven't got one.
>>The secondary purpose is to provide a handy index to your site for search engines.
The key term is "index". What bot or user says it has to be called 'sitemap.html' to retain the "concept of a site map"? Why not use your highest PR page to spread the power while giving your user an easy-to-find home base to get where they need to be?
I'd bet most users who land on a subpage and don't find what they're looking for head straight for the home page and leave if they don't find it there. My take is that usually if a user has to consult a traditional "sitemap", the Webmaster has failed them.
Of course this doesn't work for every site; Google's a good example, but it's a win-win for some.
|The key term is "index". What bot or user says it has to be called 'sitemap.html' to retain the "concept of a site map"? |
I didn't say anything about what a site map should be called.
|Why not use your highest PR page to spread the power while giving your user an easy-to-find home base to get where they need to be? |
Fine. If that's what you want to do. But if it is in your normal navigation stream then it is not a site map as normally understood.
|I'd bet most users who land on a subpage and don't find what they're looking for head straight for the home page and leave if they don't find it there. My take is that usually if a user has to consult a traditional "sitemap", the Webmaster has failed them. |
In a way yes, but who can be so certain that their navigation system is so perfect that their site wouldn't benefit from a site map?
I like sites that have a separate sitemap. It gives me, the user, an overview of everything that is available on the site. Sometimes there is some really useful content that is buried deep in the site, content that I might never have found, might not even realise was actually on the site, but which is one click away from the sitemap.
My interest in the SiteMap is along with what HarryM said. PR is great, but im more interested in a Map of the site for the User to dig into and a search engine to find deep links (the user being more important in this instance)
100 links is alot for one page, pretty big sitemap :)
As for my question of how many categories to dive down into, I guess breaking it up into mini maps or scaling it down is my answer.
Thanks to HarryM and Googleguy for indirectly answering my question.