While very often the design of a website and the actual hosting deal take precedent over many other issues, it is also vital that you ensure your site has great navigation and a site map. These are vital parts of any site, and something you will ignore at your peril!

You may wish to consider the following elements of site maps and navigational issues :-

Site Maps

While we have covered site maps before on this blog, their importance should not be forgotten, both for search engines and for your users. The main use of a site map is for the search engines, and it allows you to control which areas of the site they will look at, and which areas you want them to ignore.

The search engine industry is becoming more and more competitive, and the more help you are able to give them, the more chance of being indexed quickly, and indexed with the pages you want to show. Every day you are not on the search engines is a day missed, revenue down the drain, and customers lost. A simple site map can make a real difference.

Navigation

How many times have you been on a website and looking for a specific area, only to find that it is buried deep in sub section after sub section? Did you hang around? I did n’t.

As a general rule of navigation, you should be able to reach any page on your website in two clicks, any more and you risk losing the reader, losing that sale and reducing your exposure. Side bar menus are very important, and they can and do offer a useful quick route to any page. By structuring your pages correctly, and taking time to ensure everything is in order, you can hit the two click measurement for any site.

Conclusion

Many people seem to put far too much emphasis on the high profile areas of a website, the design, the cheap web hosting and the layout. While these are vital areas, navigation and site maps are equally as important, and should not be ignored. It is very often the simple things which will be the difference between a successful site, and a mediocre one – you have been warned!

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If you check out the main webmaster forums you will see that there is a lot of comment about site maps, the different types and their uses. While the majority of people agree that a site map is useful, if even just to let your readers know where to look, there are many hidden uses which you should be aware of.

They include :-

· Allowing you to point the search engines in a particular direction.
· Allowing you to block certain sections of your site from the search engine spiders.
· Assisting with search engine optimisation.
· Allowing you to rank pages by their level of importance.

These are just a few of the more general reasons why you need a site map to make your site as visible to the search engines as possible. As Google is by far the most popular search engine, they have introduced their very own customised site map, which offers a lot more services than most. The Google site map is linked to the Google Diagnostics section and allows you to :-

· Monitor where you traffic is coming from.
· Popular keywords.
· How often your site is “down”.
· Most popular pages.
· “Hot Spots” i.e. where you should place your adverts on the site.
· A breakdown of visitors by country.
· A breakdown of visitors by browser type.
· A breakdown of visitors by time spent on the site.
· Entry pages.
· Exit pages
· and much much more.

For the serious internet business person, the additional facilities offered by Google can be priceless, allowing you to target specific markets, and see where you are going wrong , as well as where you are succeeding. The site map sector has really developed over the last few years, and offers a vital tool to those willing to spend the time to check their site stats.

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