A basic photography website with just a few pages may be easy to get into the search engines. But what happens when you have a lot of pages, with a lot of content, and links buried deep within the pages? Can the search engines still adequately find your information?
Not always. Depending on a variety of things, including coding structure, sometimes a search engine misses portions of your pages, thus eliminating its ultimate effectiveness. So how do you make your pages search engine friendly? With a sitemap. A sitemap, if designed correctly, will be a valuable resource to both your visitors, and to the search engines.
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is a tool that provides both your visitors and the search engines with the overall organization of your website. It reflects the way a visitor would intuitively work through your website, and provides a logical flow through the pages. A good site map will:
* Show an easy to follow overview of your site
* Provide text links to every page of your site
* Provide a clear pathway for the search engines to follow
* Quickly provide a pathway for visitors to follow to get to your content
* Provide overviews of your information
Why do you need one?
Think of your sitemap as you would a table of contents in a book. It provides the headings and subheadings of the main points of your site, and provides an easy way to navigate through the information. For a search engine, it provides a quick way to follow the content, and make the determination of new items. For a visitor, it provides them with a quick resource to get back on track in case they aren’t sure of their next move.
You will typically find a sitemap linked to the photography websites’ home page. This allows easy access to the search engines, and puts the information at the beginning of your site for ease of your visitors. If your site is small, you may wish to put every page on your sitemap. Larger sites should not. Let’s say you sell pens. In one model, you sell 12 colors of the same pen, and every color has its own unique page for ordering purposes. You would want to site map the main page that showcases the pen, but leave off the 12 additional pages for each color. Be careful of using your sitemap as a link farm; you don’t want the search engines to see a never-ending list and assume you are a link farm.
And when you make changes to your site, don’t forget your sitemap. It’s an important piece to your structure. Keeping it up to date will ensure the ultimate success of your photography website.
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