Search Engine Optimizing Site Maps
by Dan Thies
If you want visitors (and search engines) to be able to find
your whole site, the easiest way to do this is with a site map.
The more content you have on your site, the more helpful this
is, both for visitors and for search engines.
Unfortunately, a lot of folks miss out on a big opportunity when
creating their site maps, which is to ensure that their site map
is contributing as much as possible to their search engine
Here are a few simple tips for optimizing your site map:
1. If you optimize each page on your site for a particular
keyword or search term, you should use those keywords in the
links you set up for each page, including the link you put on
your site map.
2. If your site covers certain distinct subjects, make sure you
include the primary search terms for these subjects as headings
on your site map page. I like to use H2 tags for each subject
area, above the links for that subject.
3. No matter what navigation scheme you use, your site map
really needs to use plain old text links - search engines have
trouble following CGI navigation or image maps. This includes
creating a plain text link to your site map from your home page,
so the search engines can find it.
4. If you have the ability to set up a customized "404 error
page" on your server, to display when visitors find a broken
link or missing page, use your site map! This way, anyone who
linked to your missing page in the past (or just mistyped the
URL) is sending visitors (and search engines!) to your site map.
Site maps are a vital part of any good website marketing
strategy - if yours isn't quite up to the job, it may only take
a few minutes to fix it.
I wish you success!
Dan Thies is the author of "Search Engine Optimization Fast
Start," a step-by-step guide to search engine positioning for
the beginner to intermediate level webmaster - available now at