If someone says that they like to have their website optimized, we immediately think of Google and the ways of getting a good position in the search results pages of Google. Whether we like it or not Google Rules! So if we like to be successful online, we need to make sure that we please Google and its search engine algorithm. One of the areas that is unique to Google is the importance it offers to the sitemaps. They recommend the webmasters to provide a good sitemap in their websites with links to all the important parts of the website.
Sitemaps are nothing but a webpage that is an integral part of your website which presents the structure of the website and how the navigation moves in your website. It is basically a useful resource for your website users especially when you have a very complicated website structure with a lot of pages.
I have come across a number of websites which are so complicated to navigate and confuse the users because of lack of proper hierarchical structure. Navigation in such websites becomes real complicated and it can frustrate the user. I try to rush to the sitemap page of the website presuming that there will be one, but they do not have a sitemap page in place either; but by looking at the site we will be able to make out that the webmaster has spent a lot of time and money in having the website designed with lots of bells and whistles. At the same time absence of a sitemap also indicates that they did not get proper SEO guidance when they built their website or sometimes they may be having a sitemap but it may not have a good representation of the website’s structure.
Sitemaps are not only important for the human users but it is also important for the search engines. Sitemaps will guide the search engine spiders in their crawling; if you have a good sitemap then you will have all the pages of your website crawled including the deepest pages. If you are targeting Google, which I am sure you will, you should have special sitemaps in XML format along with the regular sitemaps you present for your human users. Though only Google expects XML sitemaps now, it may not be surprising to see all the other search engines join Google shortly.
If you have a dynamic website and if most of the pages can be reached only via search forms then your site will certainly need an XML sitemap. By creating an XML sitemap and submitting to the search engine you will be able to help the spiders to crawl your website in its entirety. Through your XML sitemap you also supply the search engine with lot of other useful information such as how often the content in your website changes, it can be on daily, monthly or weekly basis and by using the right operator you will be able to invite the spiders to your website as frequently as required.
A resourceful webmaster always makes sure that he feeds the search engine with the food the search engines love so as to stay on top of the competition.