The Sitemap is essential for the success of any Search Engine Optimization campaign. The general rule to follow for an internal linking structure is making sure that all pages are no more than two links away. In other words, I can navigate to any given page on my website within one or two clicks. Once this system of internal linking is in place the sitemap acts as an “insurance policy.” Meaning that sometimes the search engines get confused which links to follow, thus the sitemap acts as a guide for a confused search engine, or even a confused individual.
The best strategy to follow is to include the sitemap within the footer of every single page, thus the sitemap becomes a key component of a website navigation system. Many webmasters update their pages, however forget to update the sitemap. In this case the sitemap will lead people and search engines to broken links. Thus, it is crucial to keep track of your sitemapand make sure all of your pages are properly linked on the sitemap.
The last step in ensuring a great sitemap is to check the actual links. This might sound tedious, especially if you have hundreds of links. Performing the proper QA can significantly help in the long run. While most people will never even see your sitemap, when search engines come around, you want the best chance possible to make sure all of your websites pages are properly indexed.
Thanks to Mark Jackson, The Clickz Network
August 7, 2007