What is a Website Sitemap?
Before you show you the steps to creating a website sitemap, it is essential to know what it is and why it is needed. Perhaps you have heard that website sitemaps are considered a technical component of SEO. In reality, you do not need to be a technology guru to create a sitemap. In fact, it is not a difficult task at all.
The website sitemap is the step in the website project that will set the tone for your entire website. It is a hierarchical listing of a website’s pages, that includes details regarding the page intent, content and functionality.
It will help you build a site with a purpose and goal in mind, which will allow the rest of the pieces to fall into place the right way. In addition, it will help with the overall architecture of the website and ensure all necessary items are present.
Whether you are building a new site or revamping an old site, the site map will act as your guide for the remainder of your project. Follow the five steps below to ensure a successful and productive execution for your website.
Five Steps to Creating a Website Sitemap
Audit your Existing Sitemap
The first step in creating a website sitemap is to run an audit of your existing site. If you do not have an existing site, this does not apply to you. If however, you do have an existing site, auditing it will allow you to gain a better understanding of what is working well and what is not working well.
In addition, auditing your existing website will help you determine the value of pages and how they are built. This will allow you to analyze how each page is being used and how critical each page is.
Lastly, auditing your existing website will show you exactly where pages are linking to, what pages are driving the most traffic, and how targeted keywords can improve your search rankings. This will lead you to make informed decisions when it comes to building your new website.
Define Your Goals
Following your kick-off meeting, you should set an intention for what your website will be and what it will accomplish. This is an important step because your website is an asset to your overall business and should fit into your overall business goals.
Consider what information you want your visitors to find, and what actions you want them to take. How will your visitors reach your intended goal by using your website? This should be kept in mind once you set your goal, and as you continue to design and develop the entirety of your new website.
Consider the User Experience
NOT forget about the visitors and the overall user experience. This is a critical step in the process because creating an effective buyer’s journey will determine whether or not you reach your goal. Identify your primary and secondary customers.
What are their needs? Why would they be on your website? What will get them to convert?
Perhaps you have several users on your website. Create a path for each visitor and define a flow that prevents redundant pages.
Decide on your Site’s Architecture
Now that you know who your customers are, it is time to start to consider the architecture of your website. This will define the structure and correlation between all areas and pages on a website. It will also take into consideration how your website visitors will navigate their way from page to page.
Based on the goal that you set previously, decide what is the most effective and efficient way for a visitor to reach that goal. Put yourself in the shoes of your visitors, and gain a full perspective of what makes the most sense as they make their way through your website.
Define the Page and Content Relationships
The final step is just as crucial as each step that was previously stated. The flow from one page to another defines the page and the content that should be included on your website.
Both user experience and search engine accessibility play a critical role in developing a successful website. When you create a website sitemap, it is the same as having house plans before building a home. You must know how everything will fit into place in order to prevent it from falling down around you.