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Site Map & Link Architecture examples

Need a model Site Map & definition of good Link Architecture



8:08 pm on Sep 1, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


I am reading Shari Thurow's book Search Engine Visibility, which I recommend to other newbies.

She skates a bit quickly over some subjects, however.

Site Map
1. I grasp the point that it is good to have a link at the top of the page "Site Map" that will help visitors and SEs to access your content.
2. I am wondering if anyone can recommend a specific Site Map on a website that is particularly well done? And will be particularly good for SEs?

Link Architecture
1. Thurow says that a good web page must "contain keywords and must have a link architecture for the SEs to find these keywords."
2. She also talks about Horizontal links, to enable SEs to access your deep content without having to go deeper into the vertical hierarchy.
3. I don't really have a clue about "link architecture" and "horizontal links" are a bit fuzzy as well.

Any clarity out there?




6:37 pm on Sep 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

A Site Map can be a useful 'secondary navigation' tool, especially as a site grows and becomes more complex. Sometimes the completeness of a well organized Site Map can be very helpful to your users. A customized search feature which will return the results that you want the user to find can also be very useful.

Don't know that the mods will allow specific Site Map links, though some good examples would be extremely beneficial as most Site Maps are garbage - hindering the user experience and chasing them off the sites. Terrible Site Maps are a rampant weakness. Use this to your advantage. Organization and layout are crucial.

Many search applications (essentially another method of finding what we want, and not all that different in function from a Site Map in some respects) are also garbage because they do not filter to the pages that a user is most likely looking for. If I search for - widget x - and the search returns 100 or more result pages - I am gone.

Keywords, link architecture (blah, blah, blah) - If the map is telling your visitors what each page is (what they should expect to find if clicking that link), then the keywords are already there and the SEs will scoop them up just fine. Design for the USER. Build it - and the SEs will follow. If it is easy to find categories, sub-categories, and so forth right down to specific pages - then you have a good, useful design. (Link architecture is just a $20.00 phrase for useful design:)) Nothing more than the old fashioned 'outline' - general heading, sub-heading, group, sub-group, and so forth - drilling down the site from the most general home page, to the most specific product image page.

BTW - The on-site Site Map does not have to include absolutely every page that exists on the domain. It is a tool to help direct your users, and sometimes it is best to leave out a lot of the 'insignificant' pages. They will find them from the landing pages if need be.

IMO - Two Site Maps are better than one. I regularly give Google an updated sitemap.xml - following the protocols and being as complete as possible. What I give Google, Google loves. What I give the user, the user loves - and Google doesn't seem to mind that both sitemap.xml and sitemap.html are provided.

The XML page is not a public page. But you may want to keep it private from those that might have an interest in having it. Plenty of people just use www.example.com/sitemap.xml - which hands your competitors your entire map, plus the weight that you have assigned certain pages over others. Bury it somewhere and just give Google the correct address.

sitemaps.org is a good place to check out. Also, read Google's own pages and their Webmaster Tools are also good to check out. There a lot of Site Map generators and some are a lot better than others. Free tools can be okay, but not a bad area to spend money on better tools!

2. She also talks about Horizontal links, to enable SEs to access your deep content without having to go deeper into the vertical hierarchy.

Good grief. If the user can use your site, and appreciate the ease of finding what they want then the SEs are not an issue IMO.


8:57 pm on Sep 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Thanks very much D. A thorough and excellent response.

Is it best to create site maps by hand? Or to generate them dynamically? The by hand approach will soon be out of date, but it could be more custom than a dynamic approach.



9:31 pm on Sep 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

For Google's XML site map I use an automated tool. That is a discussion that would be of great value on the subscriber's side. They will never allow specific discussion of the various, options, advantages, and disadvantages to the many options in this forum. Links, specific mentions - it won't happen in this thread, but I would be very interested in following a thorough discussion of the tools. Some 'do the job', more or less, but no more; others are much more sophisticated

It is just impossible to keep up by hand submitting maps to Google (even with a fairly small site), especially if you've got an ever changing or expanding site. I do examine the results before submission to ensure that the most important pages to me have the <priority> attribute set to 1.0 (or at least 0.8), that the minor pages are set very low, and so forth.

However, I do not think that hand coding on-site Site Maps is anywhere near out of date. If one is organized, there is just too much power in control of content and presentation in hand coding. Plus, once you have constructed an 'extensible template' (one of my $20.00 phrases - we all have a few:)) for the site (a design format built to allow for the growth of the site), then it is a simple matter keep up with changes. This is also true (maybe more so) with sites of thousands of pages. You definitely do not want a Site Map with thousands of links. The priority, for me, is to 'bread crumb' the general structure of the site with the Site Map - and guide people into at least the section or sub-section that they are looking for. From that point, on-page navigation should get them exactly where they need to be if not already there.

Most of the sites in which I am involved are 100 - 1,000 pages, so you may get very different suggestions from players that deal with sites that start at 1,000 pages. The niche, demographics, and such, are also factors in what is 'best'. No best is best for everyone or every site.


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