By Karon Thackston
Mechanical spiders have to eat. In fact, they usually have bigger appetites than the real-life
spiders you squish under your shoe. What spiders am I talking about? The automated programs sent
out by search engines to review and index websites. These "spiders" (sometimes called "bots") are
looking for a reason to list your site within the database of their particular search engine. It's
hard work roaming around the 'Net non-stop, and these little guys need some nourishment from
time-to-time. In fact, when spiders find some hearty "spider food" (a.k.a. a site map with some
meat to it), they sit down to stay a while. That's a good thing!
You've probably seen many site maps. The standard ones look like the example below with each phrase
being linked to the page of the same (or similar) name.
Site maps are deemed "spider food" because they can be the perfect place for search engine spiders
and bots to crawl your site. Because a site map has links to every page of your site (and those link
names or page descriptions often include keywords), it is extremely easy for the search engine spider
to access each publicly accessible area with no obstacles and relate it to a given subject matter.
(For example, a page labeled "microwave ovens" is most likely about microwave ovens.)
Some site owners think that's enough. They think a page with keyword-rich titles and links is plenty
for a hungry little spider to munch on. Not hardly! That's not a meal… it's just a light snack.
Give Spiders A Tasty Treat
If you really want to fill the spiders' bellies, you'll want to take your site map page to the max
with a descriptive site map (as I like to call them). Descriptive site maps go beyond the simple list
of links to pages. These special versions of the traditional maps also include a short, keyword-rich
description of each page. The text only needs to be a sentence or two in length. An example is below.
This is certainly not the only way to layout or design your site map. Get creative and use columns,
bullets or other formatting to make it look the way you like. (The links would remain the same as in
the previous example.)
Descriptive site maps work well in attracting and satisfying spiders because they include naturally
occurring keywords. They also place keywords in the vicinity of a link that points to the associated
page. Add these advantages to those that already exist, including:
· having links in the body copy of the page
· overcoming complex navigation such as DHTML or Java
· lending quick access to pages located several layers deep within the site
· assisting with usability for visitors (especially disabled visitors)
· and others
and you have prepared a huge feast for the search engine spiders that is almost guaranteed to entice
those hungry little critters to crawl through every available page of your site.
Does every site need a site map? It certainly wouldn't hurt. Sites with less than 20 pages or sites
where most or all the pages have links directly from the home page generally don't "need" a site map,
per se. However, practically every site of every size can reap benefits from including a map on their
If you're creating a site map for your site, don't stop with the basics. With just a little added
effort, you'll have a four-course meal to serve the spiders that will keep them happy and satisfied
and that will help get you exceptional rankings.
About the Author
Reference Box: Copy not getting results? Learn to write SEO copy that impresses the engines and your
visitors at http://www.copywritingcourse.com. Be sure to also check out Karon’s latest e-report "How
To Increase Keyword Saturation (Without Destroying the Flow of Your Copy)" at
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