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The Map With No Streets: SiteMaps and Search Engines

by | Apr 03, 2014

SEO_WebsiteboxSearch Engine Optimization (SEO)and first page search engine results position are the most important and most elusive of goals for every real estate website owner and developer. We diligently incorporate keywords and phrases in our titles, descriptions, tags and our content. We study what Google says about best content practices to achieve our first page position goals. Some of us even hire SEO "gurus" or buy books and white papers about how to improve our Search Engine Results Page (SERP) position.

Let's assume that you've created an amazing article or page with highly relevant content about your local real estate market. You've optimized for one or two specific key phrases, and used them in all of the suggested places in META and content. You checked and know that these key phrases are popular and used a lot. It's an SEO masterpiece! Over the months you're watching your analytics reports and you just don't see the page views you expected.

Does Google just not like you? Maybe you used one of the key phrases one too many times and you're getting dinged for keyword spamming. Maybe it's not even that page, but your site as a whole is not in favor with Google right now. How are you to know? Do you know if the page has been indexed? Perhaps there is some obscure technical reason for it, but Google's robot simply missed this page. Maybe there are a number of really well-constructed articles that aren't getting crawled by the robots.

You could have a problem with your site's navigation and the interior site linking making it difficult for Google and other search engines to crawl and index all of your content. The robots are coming and going, but some of your content is just missed. Some articles may be just hanging out there without interior linking to guide the robot to them. This is when you need a map to help them get there, because they're like men and won't ask for directions.

Google Help says that sitemaps are particularly helpful if:

  • Your site has dynamic content.
  • Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process—for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or images.
  • Your site is new and has few links to it. (Googlebot crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn't well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
  • Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.

A Sitemap is a must for every real estate website. It's a lot like a street map of a city, as it provides a routing through the city, our site, to facilitate the movement of the robots and keep them from missing good content. Just creating a Sitemap isn't a guarantee that the search engines will get maximum value from it. How it's constructed and presented is also important. A city map under the car seat isn't of much use, and a Sitemap improperly constructed or presented is almost as useless.

Helping Google's search robots to navigate your site is as important as providing delivery drivers with GPS or maps, and updating them as the city grows and streets are added. (You don't need to worry if you have aWebsiteBox site, as we're master-mapmakers.)

To view the original article, visit the WebsiteBox blog.

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