Sitemap Best Practices

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2 minutes

Sitemaps vs Navigation

Sitemaps can sometimes be confused with website navigation. To clarify, a sitemap is a list of pages, whereas the website navigation is how you get to those pages. Navigation examples include links, search, and menus. These all get you to the page you are searching for, and where that page ‘sits’ in the website is dictated by your sitemap. Often the main menu of a website reflects most of the sitemap.

Best Practices for Sitemaps 

It is important to maintain your website's sitemap to improve your user's experience on your site and to make sure search engines can crawl the information across your site. 

  •  All pages are accessible within three clicks. Therefore, keep sitemaps to a maximum of three levels. If you have fourth-level of pages in your existing website, there are several design and functionality options to get this content into the third level and keep it easy to read. For example, you could use styling such as titles and headers, or page anchors. 
  • Similar pages are grouped together.
  • There are no duplicated menu items.
  • Uses terminology of the audience (e.g. your customers or community) rather than industry jargon or based on your organization’s departments.
  • If there are several options for the name of a page, pick just one then include its synonyms within the page’s body content so that users can find it within your search, and search engines can scan clustered content terms.

While re-organizing a sitemap can be a big project if you have a large number of pages, following the above best practices will ensure it is simple to understand by having clearly defined categories and sections for your pages. Implementing a content governance system can also assist in maintaining your webpages and their content. 
We have team members that are experts in content strategy and re-organizing sitemaps, get in touch if you would like to learn more or have our team conduct a content audit on your site.