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I work at a marketing agency that does a lot of SEO/PPC work along with building websites. We do keyword research for the client's domain and then use that to create the sitemap. This is a good idea from an Internet Marketing standpoint because the pages are now hitting keywords in SERPs.

But is this a good practice from a UX perspective? On one hand, we're basing the sitemap on what users are already searching for (results of the keyword research). But on the other hand, it's too heavily invested in search engine patterns of use and not patterns of use of the actual website.

My question is, is this good practice and, if not, how can I demonstrate to management that we should get away from this?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is an "it depends" answer, and I apologize for that. But I think the question can only be answered if we knew the goal of the SEO activities. If the main goal is to draw attention (that is visitors PPC) then yes. You would want to get attention from using the right keywords and get (ultimately) a lot of hits. But ...

… if you want to sell anything and care of who actually visits your site to be potential buyers and if you worry about conversion rates, then the answer is no. Then you need to target those users not just anyone. You would want that someone to visit your site that would at least consider buying, not just the "window shopper" browsing user, unless...

… (damn this is complicated) that window shopper browsing user posts her/his findings on pintrest, facebook, *.socialNetwork which might lead to that someone who actually buys online from your store. Is this measurable? If you are a Search Engine company who also provides a browser and web email account - yes, otherwise no.

So what do you do then? You use the dynamite approach and try to get visible wherever and whenever in any possible way, because you can never know what might lead to success. What I mean is - your goal decide which method to use.

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To be more specific, I'd say 95% of the sites we build have the goal of generating leads (i.e., user submitting a form with contact info to let the client know they are interested in buying a product or service). –  Mitch Malone Apr 5 '12 at 19:35
    
@MitchMalone If you want to generate leads, and your only measure is no. of leads, regardless of convertion rate, I'd say your current approach works very well. Quantity instead of Quality in this case. This is the opposite to what Avinash Kaushik usually recomends kaushik.net/avinash –  Benny Skogberg MCSA Apr 6 '12 at 8:51

Surely the sitemap should be driven by the site content (and perhaps the site content should be driven by keyword research). It seems odd to go from keyword research directly to the sitemap because that seems to ignore the content.

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Let me help clear this up. Sitemaps are mostly design for search engines. Only 1% to 5% of users are watching sitemaps from total visitors on our site.

Designing sitemaps just with awareness of google updates is no benefit. The reason is that google has also update calls EMD Updates and all so it will catch you surely. Sitemap are just to let search engines know that you have some new urls which needs to crawled and index. So use if for that purpose.

Your basic first step should be to keyword research which you are doing perfectly so do keyword research make patter of keyword so with 1 keyword you can target multiple don't worry about sitemap for same.

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I don't think this helps answer the question. If the research identifies suitable keywords why should / shouldn't those keywords be used in the sitemap? Your answer appears to be about what sitemaps are used for, but not whether or not keywords should appear in the site structure. –  JonW Apr 3 '13 at 7:44

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