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SEO has moved on over the years, so do you feel that it's still necessary to include a sitemap page on a site (For UX purposes, as well as SEO)?

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According to this article, it is. seoconsult.com/on-page-search-engine-optimisation/… –  Bart Gijssens Feb 5 '13 at 12:15
    
What is the user experience aspect of your question? SEO seems to be rather off topic as such, even though sitemaps may not be. You might want to add more information to your question. –  kontur Feb 5 '13 at 12:22
    
Do you mean a Sitemap page, or the sitemap.XML? –  JonW Feb 5 '13 at 12:24
    
I'm taking about a sitemap page. There are accessibility advantages, which is a good reason to include one, but are there any others? Many mobile versions of sites don't include a sitemap page, this is what's trigged my question. –  Dereck Johnson Feb 5 '13 at 12:57

4 Answers 4

I vote no for UX and yes for SEO (with a caveat).

If your site requires a sitemap for a user to find their way around, then that's a smell that you have a poor information architecture. I don't buy the argument that they support users who know what they are looking for - like an index in a book. A website and book are sufficiently different that the comparison isn't useful. Use search if you need the user to find one piece of content from within volumes of it (think Amazon or Wikipedia).

The SEO story is different. A sitemap can help in that circumstance, especially if some content isn't accessible through normal user flows. The caveat is that using a sitemap XML file is probably more effective and doesn't bear the burdon of needing to be digestible by an end user.

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The architecture of the site in question requires work. As for search, well that's not to great, but that is being worked on.You make a good point about the XML version of the sitemap. I guess this is getting to the bottom of my question - wether to reveal a sitemap for users. –  Dereck Johnson Feb 6 '13 at 14:30
    
Check out the Wikipedia page on sitemaps. It talks, about the XML sitemap protocol. Good, short read. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sitemaps –  EricM Feb 6 '13 at 18:43

If your home page (or first landing page) is not intuitive enough, then a sitemap will be useful for not-so-tech-savy users.

Also, sitemaps always help in making your site more accessible to search engines no matter how much SEO has moved on.

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I would challenge it is the other way around. A not so tech savy user isn't going to know to look for a site map, where as I jump straight to the site map if the UI is so messed up (err, I mean "modern") that it is impossible to find anything quickly. This is kind of like the concept of an index (in the book sense), simply having a good Table of Contents does not make an index useless. Different ways of organizing information offer different experiences. A site map lets a user that knows what they want find it, while a page layout may be designed to lead a user, but not be helpful for... –  AJ Henderson Feb 5 '13 at 15:08
    
finding a particular value. I'd say it is comparable to the automated phone systems that make life easier for 95% of people, but on that 5% that need something that it doesn't cover, 0 should still give you a live person. –  AJ Henderson Feb 5 '13 at 15:10
    
@AJHenderson I agree, it can be looked the other way around also. However, though a not so tech savy user may not look for something that is called 'sitemap', but may still click on a button called 'help' or 'search text field' and look for whatever he needs to find out. A typical example could be a first time user who wants to find out customer service number for his telephone connection, will come to a site and will either go to help (which will internally have a site map or FAQ) or will go to search box. –  ripu1581 Feb 6 '13 at 4:13

Site maps are still useful in the same way that an index is still useful in a book that has a table of contents. It provides a different way of organizing information. A great website will naturally lead the users to where they want to go normally, particularly if they don't know exactly what they are looking for, but a site map is invaluable for quickly finding one particular thing that might be an uncommon activity. It's also similar to how automated phone systems are great for helping direct a large portion of calls, but when a caller can't be helped by that system, you still need a way to get to a person that can look at the actual directory and send them to the right people.

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I think a simple HTML site map is useful when the user is looking to find something. Search engines are smarter than before and so there may be no need to build a site map especially for them.

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