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A good sitemap will:
Provide text links to at least most important pages on your site; depending on size of site, it may have links to every page
Give a short explanation of each page on your site, to inform your visitors about your website
Give your visitors information they need when lost in your website, and show them how to reach page they are looking for
Provide a pathway for search engine robots to follow in order to reach your most important pages
Provide important keyword phrases in sitemap text and hypertext links that help automated search engine robot "understand" what page is about
Help search engine robots find static landing pages that then link to dynamically generated pages they may not otherwise find
Even if your website is small, add a sitemap for your visitors and for search engine robots.
To make your sitemap most attractive to search engine robots and your human visitors, be sure to include descriptive text along with page URLs and links. Use your keywords in that text, including appropriate content for each of pages to which you link. Be careful not to overuse your keyword phrases, though, or you may be penalized in rankings. Remember that this is a map that will be used by both search engine robots and your human visitors. If content of page makes sense to people who visit your site, chances are it will make sense to visiting robots as well.
When you make it easy for your visitors to navigate your site, they will find what they are looking for. When you make it easy to search engine robots to move around on your site, you increase your chances of being favorably listed in their search results.
Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing Consultant for Search Innovation (www.searchinnovation.com), a Search Engine Promotion company serving small businesses. Besides running her own company, Daria is an associate of WebMama.com, an Internet web marketing strategies company. She has specialized in search engine optimization since 1998, including three years as the Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates, a technical book publishing company.