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9 best practices for crafting the perfect sitemap

By May 3, 2022June 27th, 2022No Comments

You finally got the green light from your leadership team to blow up your current website and start fresh.

But where to start with the content and organization? From sales and customer service to your product team and CFO, everyone has sent you a wish list of content they believe is critical to the new website.

In addition to trying to balance SEO keyphrases and meeting your aggressive lead generation goals, all this can become an organizational nightmare.

Enter the sitemap.

What is the purpose of site mapping your website?

The purpose of site mapping is to create a visual representation of the navigation that includes all of the top-level and sub-pages on your site, plus how they are related.

From a big picture perspective, this is how visitors navigate your website to find out more about—and ideally engage with—your company.

From a content marketing and SEO perspective, the sitemap gives marketers, copywriters, and other stakeholders a map of where different content lives. Here are six tips for writing web copy for SEO. The sitemap will also help your team quickly identify gaps in content by seeing what’s missing.

On the back-end technical side, your developer should upload the XML sitemap to Google so that the search engine can more easily index your website for SEO purposes.

Sitemap vs. wireframe

One of the most common questions we hear from clients is what’s the difference between the sitemap and the wireframe.

The wireframe shows where content will appear on a page and specifies what elements will go where, including the headline, body text, images, or icons.

Whereas the wireframe maps out an individual page, the sitemap is your key to understanding the complete picture of what pages will be on your website.

Sitemap best practices

With more than 20 years of experience developing award-winning websites, here’s what we’ve learned about crafting the perfect sitemap.

1. Document the sitemap. This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many web development teams skip this step. We use a sitemap builder to see all the pages together in one place; this tool also makes it easy to move pages around.

2. Ensure all stakeholders are on the same page. While marketing is typically the website gatekeeper, it’s essential to consider the needs of other stakeholders within your organization. Don’t forget to run your sitemap by customer service, the product team, and HR, among others.

3. Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes. You know what your company does, but the vast majority of your website visitors do not—that’s why they’re coming to your website. Think about what they need or want to know about your company, products, and services.

4. Take your visitors on a journey. Now that you’re thinking like your prospects, anticipate how they will enter and navigate your website to find the information relevant to them. Keep in mind you may have more than one target audience or buyer and the online experiences may differ.

5. Make it easy to get in touch or request a demo. Let’s face it, conversions are the name of the game—it’s why you’re here. You want to make it easy for prospects (and current customers) to contact you. Prominent buttons and visibility in the top-level navigation are a must.

6. Research what the competition is doing. How does your competition make it easy (or hard) for prospects to navigate their website? Do you want to use similar or different wording to describe your products or services? Have you heard what’s easy or difficult about navigating their website from current customers?

7. Integrate your brand personality. While you should see what the competition is doing, you should also view the sitemap as an opportunity to showcase your brand and what makes you stand apart from the competition. Just because everyone else uses “solutions” as the first navigation drop-down, doesn’t mean you have to.

8. Anticipate growth and change. Build your sitemap with growth in mind. Are you planning to launch a new product within the next six months, or are you ramping up your PR efforts? Whatever your plans and marketing strategy are for the next year, think about the web requirements needed to support it.

9. Use the sitemap to guide copywriting and design. Starting a new website project with a defined sitemap will make the rest of the project that much easier, from copywriting and design, to SEO and launch.

Need help crafting the perfect sitemap for your online presence?

Developing the ideal sitemap goes hand-in-hand with your SEO strategy.

Partner with a B2B healthcare marketing agency with top-level project management skills and subject matter expertise in healthcare IT and biotech to elevate your online presence.

Contact us today to get started.

Melanie Hilliard

Author Melanie Hilliard

Melanie is an Account Director and Content Lead at Clarity Quest. Nothing makes her heart sing more than fantastic marketing. To learn more about Melanie's experiences and qualifications, visit our leadership team page.

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