Why Every Website Needs a Sitemap
The internet is arguably just one major complicated web of interconnected entities that seemingly stretch forever. This terminology isn’t off-base, as many people historically referred to it as “the world wide web”. Despite this, the reality of the internet is that it is billions of devices and servers all connected to one another, with no true central hub or location. This means that finding anything requires being connected to something – or someone – else.
Navigation is crucial for both the internet and your own website. How can people and search engines effectively find your content without an organized and sensible structure? For ages, bloggers and webmasters alike have used sitemaps to accomplish this goal.
To illustrate the necessity of sitemaps, let’s examine why every website should embrace this feature.
Sitemaps Help Keep Growing Websites Navigable
As your website ages and grows, it inevitably will accumulate more and more pages. While a dozen or two pages may not be difficult to find or track, hundreds or even thousands of pages can ultimately become difficult for even search engines to find. Sitemaps serve one crucial purpose for on-site navigation: to help users (and yourself) easily find every piece of content published.
By creating silos or categories of content, finding each and every example easily only takes a bit of HTML know-how or a plug-in. In many ways, sitemaps can function as virtual directories that ensure every piece of content remains visible and isn’t lost to the sands of time.
Sitemaps Illustrate the Focus of Your Website
Over time, some websites may gradually drift away from their original purpose – though not intentionally. While a particular content may have been the website’s initial raison d’etre, as the months and years have passed on, the focus of content may begin to shift or drift. While this is fine if intentional, many bloggers and webmasters slowly pivot without realizing it.
By creating a sitemap, you’ll easily be able to visualize the overall structure and flow of your website. Since you’ll be pinging links to this sitemap from every page on your website, glancing at how the focus of content is shifting over time becomes much easier. You may be surprised that the focus of your content has gradually drifted from its original intent: with that information, you can decide either to pivot back or continue the trend.
Improve Search Engine Crawling Speed
Just as there are tangible benefits to sitemaps for humans, there are also technical benefits. Search engines utilize crawlers that in some respects manually comb the web for new pages and content; this content is then assessed and ranked in search engine results relevant to the pages’ topics.
HTML sitemaps are a great way to organize your content and improve the speed at which search engine crawlers find it. The more efficiently you’re pinging links to search engines, the quicker they can find them and list them. For brands competing intensely in one or more niches via SEO, this can make a huge difference in how quickly people discover your content.
Sitemaps serve both technical and practical purposes for users, webmasters and search engines alike. Given the ease of creating one, there’s simply no excuse not to have this feature for your website regardless of the number of pages featured on it.