May 02 2024


Why Your Sitemap is Important to Your Overall Digital Marketing Strategy 

Would you build an industrial facility without blueprints or install new equipment without a manual? Guides like these are crucial to any large project because they provide a clear plan and go beyond step-by-step instructions to include how systems, materials, and other specifications work. The same goes for web developers and digital marketing specialists building websites—they go beyond design to plan the backend systems, integrations, and navigation key to online discovery.  

This website blueprint starts with a sitemap, and it ensures search engines crawl and index the site so customers can easily discover and navigate it to find the information they need. Your website is the foundation of all your marketing strategies, which is why TopSpot prioritizes sitemaps in its web development and SEO processes. We lay out a website’s structure and how it guides both users and search engines through the content.  

In this blog, we learn more about these unsung digital marketing heroes and help your business prepare for this important step in creating effective integrated online marketing strategies, allowing for optimal collaboration with developers and technical SEOs. 

You can often find a website’s sitemap HTML in its footer.

What is a sitemap? 

A sitemap lists and organizes the various pages on a website and serves as a catalog of available content for users and search engines. Having “map” in the name makes sense as a sitemap shows the different pathways through the site. This deliverable takes two forms—HTML for users and XML for search engines. These are sometimes laid out visually via spreadsheet or wireframe for stakeholders to better understand how a user moves through the site.  

Sitemaps can be confused with site architecture, which refers to the broader exercise of organizing a website’s content and includes the sitemap and site navigation. Another point of confusion is that the site navigation differs from the sitemap, focusing on the menus that help steer users through the site. All three work together to create a website that represents the business’ priorities, helps buyers through their journey, and fuels SEO. 

An example of a website’s navigation and content organization utilizing B-SMART terms.

Tips on creating a sitemap 

The sitemap format you are likely to collaborate with is the HTML file. TopSpot starts with a sitemap before moving on to wireframes and utilizes existing analytics to inform decisions. We look at which pages are driving traffic and conversion events and how to optimize them. Additionally, for those pages not driving any activity, we rarely remove the pages. Instead, we look at possible technical issues, strategize the page’s priority, and how to optimize it. Your website’s centrality to the buyers’ journey makes this a great exercise in determining business priorities and goals.  

By thinking about your priorities and the buyers’ journey, you can answer:  

  • What’s the hierarchy in terms of priority products and services?  
  • How can you group into categories?  
  • What additional information is needed for content support?  
  • How does the customer contact you while navigating the site?  
  • How do value-adds align with your products and service priorities?  
  • Other information customers need to know like: about us pages, certifications, case studies, and other supporting content  

A note on value adds: You’re looking to fulfill buyer intent with the best possible user experience. You want to avoid information overload, so priorities should be laid out so that once fulfilled, those secondary value adds can be differentiators in decision-making.  

This is a big ask, so where do you start? As you list priorities, keep in mind user intent and behavior. Your analytics tells you what queries buyers utilize, where they are landing, what other pages they review, and most importantly, what content drives quality leads. A review of your competition in the landscape also helps this understanding. 

This is where the B-SMART Method® can help, creating priorities and categories known to fulfill user intent. B-SMART content includes:  

  • Brands  
  • Shapes, sizes, and SKUs   
  • Materials  
  • Areas of industry  
  • Requirements   
  • Type  

Now your blueprints will cater to the audience most likely searching for your products or services and can be filled in with keywords based on the same methodology that attracts quality leads. 

From the sitemap, search engines can crawl and find content aligning to a search query.

Sitemaps for SEO and indexing 

Sitemaps help search engines find, crawl, and index content so search engines know what pages align with specific searches. This plays a big part in indexing, which is organizing and storing data in a structured way to facilitate efficient and quick retrieval. Think of the old-school Rolodex or how you file things on a cloud platform like Sharepoint. Search engines need to store data to find the right information in a fraction of a second.  

That’s where the XML file comes in, and while setup is technical, it is important to realize the impact that file can make. The XML sitemap is created in a content management tool plugin or generator tool and optimized, then submitted to search engines. This XML sitemap essentially provides a map for search engines to access all your pages. From there, developers and technical SEOs validate the work with analytics, revise based on performance, and provide continual monitoring and updating. Staying on top of your sitemap and indexing helps ensure your content is crawled, stored, and accessed. 

What’s your takeaway? 

Your website is the nucleus of all your marketing, so a sitemap serves as the foundation to build up a robust and effective marketing program. Using B-SMART, a sitemap should kick off any website or SEO project to secure a basis for successful SEO and indexing, and a great user experience that generates quality leads.  

For more information on sitemaps, contact your Account Team. Not a TopSpot Client? Contact us to learn more about website development and optimization for search engines. 

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