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December 15, 2016

3 ways to get most juice out of your site maps

The making of the sitemap

Traditional site maps are static HTML files that outline the first and second level structures on the website. The original purpose of the site map  was to easily find items on the website. Over time  sitemaps also became a useful tool to help search engine find content  and index all parts of the site you wanted to.  Today its recommended that every webmaster have a  XML site map which provides easy to read links dump for the spiders to index . A Good Site map must fulfill the following 5 criteria. At best a site map is just   a table of contents, at worst its just an index for your site.

1)show a quick and easy follow overview of your website
2)provides a pathway for the search engine spiders to follow 
3)provides a text links to every page on your website
4)Quickly show visitors what information they will  be getting across which pages
5)Utilities keywords phrases and to help  rank well across search engines

Here are some of the best practices to get more juice out of your site maps

1)Your sitemap should be linked from the homepage. Linking it this way gives the search engine an easy way to find the website and then follow it all the way through the site.If its linked from the other pages , the spider might find a dead end along the way and quit following your website
2)Small sites can place every page on their site map, Bigger sites should not :You would not want the search engines to see a never ending list of links and assume its a link farm. Use nested sitemaps if you jave many pages to cover.A nested sitemap contains only your top level  pages on the main sitemap and includes links to more specific sitemaps.
3)Some SEO experts believe that you should have no more than 25 to 40 links on your sitemap. This also ensures that that your sitemap is immensely readable by the human visitors.
4)The Anchor text in your site map ( words which are clicked on )  of each link should ideally contain a keyword as far as possible.Also make sure that the anchor text links on your site map are all linked to the appropriate page.
5) After creating   a sitemap, go back and  make sure you check all your links are correct. A broken link on your site map is the last thing you need and is a terrible user experience.All the pages shown on your site map should contain a link back to the sitemap.

6)If you have  a very extensive content with huge number of pages,you should try to create a sitemap for each silo.The master sitemap would not contain all the pages of the website, but would lead the search engines and users to the appropriate sitemap just like the rest of your site

The Site map must also
begin with an opening <urlset> tag ( encapsulates the file and references the current protocol standard) and with with a closing urlset tag)
include an entry for each <URL> as a parent XML tag.Parent tag for eachURL entry. The remaining tags are children of this tag)
include a< loc> child entry for each url parent tag.The url must begin with a protocol such as http:// and end with the trailing slash,if your web server requires it.This value must be less than 2048 characters