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Because of this deep nesting structure, our product pages and deep category pages don't rank very well in Google. I'm thinking that if I can flatten the categories structure in a sitemap. Any advice on how to do this? Is it true that I shouldn't have more than 100 links on a page? Say I want to link to every category. If I want to link to each of our 2,200 categories should I have on the main sitemap page links to say 22 sitemap subpages and then on each of those have links to 100 categories, thereby having links to every category, or is there a more optimal structure in the eyes of Google? Thanks!
If not, do that first.
Are you absolutely sure that each page of the site has only URL that you can access it by?
That is, no www and non-www problems of any sort, no extra query strings or parameters, versus "bare" URLs, and so on?
I also recently made sure that every page is distinct -- previously we had several domains that could be used to access the site (plus a non-www address) but I used apache redirects to redirect all those other URLs to the main www domain URL.
I realize that it's not the directories, rather it is the number of clicks. I'm just wondering what is the optimal structure. I could just list all the 2,200 categories on the main sitemap page and then it would just be 1 click to each subcategory from the sitemap page...however, it seems like Google wouldn't like that many links on one page. If I do 22x100 links or 100x22 links then it would be 2 clicks to each subcategory. Is that the ideal structure? Do I need to be absolutely strict about only having 100 links on each page or is that just an approximate rule? Thanks.
If the last one, here is an idea:
try to create a rollover site map. You could code it so the site map changes the link positions every two-three days (depends how often google bot visit your site).
Example: Your sitemap consist of 100 pages with url's.
first 3 days: only 50 links at the first page,
3-6 days: 50 from last time, are moved to the end, and you displya 50 new at the first page.
6-9 same again etc....
On another much larger site I have around 400 links from the sitemap (not to all pages) and that page is not supplemental. Do we have any hard evidence that Google objects to pages with large numbers of outbound links? My experience (up to 400) seems to suggest otherwise, at least for a sitemap.
Adding more links to pages and taking some of your pagerank from higher level pages will will help.
Higher PR and more crawl paths battle supplemental status, but there is no guarantee for anything PR4 or under, or with ten or few links to a page.