A sitemap contains information about the videos, images, pages and other files on a website. It is a bit like an outline but it is much more than a rough sketch of ideas. The process of building sitemaps helps create great information architecture – the bare bones of what is on your website before you add all the extras. Think of the process as creating an easy way for search engines and users to quickly discover the contents of your site.
Sitemaps explain how files are related to one another. They exist as flow chart diagrams or lists that show connections between the site’s content, webpage trees and web pages themselves. They help create a user-friendly site that search engines can also understand. Search Engine Crawlers use them to discover which files are the most important, according to you.
Site mapping during the planning process help designers visualize how a site will work. 2D images of cells or blocks represent pages and other web objects while connecting lines showing a path or link reveal relationships. Sitemaps can also be XML documents. This structured list displays standardized tags with enclosed information. XML site mapping can be read from top to bottom quickly by computers.
Building sitemaps is also useful for SEO. An XML sitemap is designed for search bots, and an updated XML file can be used to ping search engines, alerting them of changes. New content can improve SEO, and an XML document lets search engines know there is fresh new content to index.
After reading about sitemapping, make sure to visit our Information Architecture and Content Planning guides to help you plan your sitemaps.