Maps: Let Search Engines Find Your Pages
by: Mario Sanchez
With 40 million websites in
existence, and more than 3 billion web pages indexed by Google at the
time of this writing (July 2003), it’s no wonder that more and more
people are relying on search engines to find their way through the
unruly world that the web has become.
Nowadays, it is crucial to
get your pages indexed by the most important search engines. To maximize
traffic to your site, you must make sure that all your internal pages
are indexed, not just your main page (homepage).
Fortunately, you don’t need
to submit each of your pages manually. The most efficient way is to
create a Site Map (a list of links to all the pages in your site) and
link to it directly from your homepage.
How Will A Site Map Help
Search engines find pages
by “crawling” the web. They go through the code of all the pages in
their database (also called index), following links to other pages and
adding them to the database (in fact, more pages are added this way than
by manual submission).
However, search engines
have trouble following links from pages buried too deep within the
directory structure of a site. A Site Map solves this problem by giving
the engines access to the links to all your pages once they follow the
Site Map link in your homepage. For more effectiveness, place your Site
Map in your root directory (where your index page is).
Site Maps: Not Just for
While some web users will
find their way through your site by following navigation links or by
using the search box, others will turn to your Site Map. If you design
your Site Map carefully, it will not only be useful to the search
engines, but to your human visitors as well.
Here are some pointers:
The Site Map should act
pretty much like the table of contents of a book.
The Site Map must clearly
show all the sections of your site, and the information contained in
each of those sections.
Every item in your Site
Map must be hyperlinked to its URL.
If it’s not too long or
cumbersome, use each page’s TITLE as the link text, since this tends
to increase the relevance of your site. Otherwise, use the word or the
short phrase that best describes the content of the page.
Make sure that you place
the link to your Site Map at a visible location in your homepage
(users shouldn’t need a map to find your Site Map!).
Don’t get creative:
simply call the link “Site Map”.
Make your Site Map a
How can I check if my pages
have been indexed?
Once you have created and
uploaded your Site Map and placed a link to it in your homepage, submit
both your homepage and your Site Map page to the search engines. You
will then have to wait until the search engines do a web crawl. In the
case of Google, the largest search engine, this happens approximately
once a month.
To check if a page on your
site has been picked-up and indexed by Google’s, go to
the “allinurl” command in the search box:
is the URL of the page you want to check.
To get a list of all the
pages in your domain that have been indexed by Google, you’ll have to
use the “site” command, followed by your domain name plus a word (or
group of words) that you know appear in all your pages (for example, a
copyright statement or some footer text):
If after typing this
command you get a list of all your pages (or at least a significant
number of pages that weren’t in the index before), this will be a strong
indication that your Site Map has been successful.
|About The Author
Mario Sanchez publishes The Internet Digest (
), an online collection of web design and Internet marketing
articles and resources. You can freely reprint his weekly articles
in your website, ezine, newsletter or ebook.