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  1. #1
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    I've been thinking about different ways to implement site maps, and it seems what's needed to do it right is perhaps a new template type, as site maps are different from ordinary index pages.

    Perhaps a future version of WebMerge could have "Site Map" as another tab in the main window, where you could specify a template, relevant fields for categorization, and a means of specifying which pages it should link to.

    Please post URLs to examples of site maps you like, and feel free to speak up here about what options you feel would be important to have in a template-driven solution for creating them.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  2. #2
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    A site-map is simply the "top-tier" of a completed site. If you can wrap the top-tier into something that would be great.

    Even greater, would be the appearance of a "tree" based visual structure, that would end up with levels representing different tiers.

    Fred

  3. #3
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    I'm the one who suggested this heh. Right now I currently use a separate program for my sitemap, but thought it would be nice to be able to do it in Webmerge.

    Now if I could only figure how to do categories in just one WM run:P

  4. #4
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    looks like folks have a tough time answering a simple request! Here's a great site map
    sitemap

  5. #5
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by henrylair:
    looks like folks have a tough time answering a simple request! Here's a great site map
    http://www.overstock.com/cgi-bin/d2....9&PAGE=sitemap <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Thank you, Henry. That page provides a good table of contents, but I don't see what I would expect to in the way of a site map per se. Am I misunderstanding the request, and instead all that's needed is a category-based TOC? I may be able to make a tag for that.....
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  6. #6
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    You may want to offer what is referenced above, but a true site map lists every page on a site, in a category hierarchy, like an outline.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    The Overst*ck example, is simply a top-level hierarchy, based on categories - something you can presently do in WebMerge.

    Debbie is correct, but it is cumbersome to put all of a site's pages in a single document (obviously). But that is the correct site-map structure.

    Remember, the site map is used for humans and "others" to "drill-down" into one's site structure from a single point.

    A big DUH! on those last two paragraphs...

    Fred

  8. #8
    http and a telephoto
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>"others" to "drill-down" into one's site structure from a single point <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    Mostly the others..... lol.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  9. #9
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    I would love to see an example of what the others think a site map is. Here's a definition, "A sitemap is a model of the structure of a website on a single page. At a glance, the user can see the main categories and subcategories on a site. This visualization can be a literal graphical map or be text-based. Text-based sitemaps (really a table of contents) are easier to maintain than graphical ones due to production overhead. Dynamic sitemaps that require users to manipulate the page to see the content (e.g., hyperbolic trees) are not as successful as simple, uncluttered outlines. The most important thing about a sitemap is that it be accurate, easy to scan, and easy to understand.

    I make a three tier TOC using an extra run with a modified database index but would love to do it with an extra tab.

  10. #10
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    Maybe something like this

    Page 1
    Simple description and entising words
    Subpage 1
    Simple description and entising words
    Subpage 2
    Simple description and entising words
    Subpage 3
    Page 2
    Simple description and entising words

    and so on.

    I like to have a description as this avoids keyword stuffing and people do look at site maps so it is more helpful for them.

    Being able to state the number of links per page would also be great.

    R

  11. #11
    Action Jackson - King of the World
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    Site Maps are just a list of links to every page on your site. In this case they would lead to every page of the feed. They are for the search engines not human visitors.

  12. #12
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by jackson992:
    Site Maps are just a list of links to every page on your site. In this case they would lead to every page of the feed. They are for the search engines not human visitors. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Every visible element is for human visitors. Search engines can bring you customers, but they don't buy anything themselves.

    A good site map will serve both as a guide for humans to find their way around your site, and for searchbots to make sure they index key pages.

    But if you have good navigation all your pages will be linked anyway, so the site map is merely a redundancy for searchbots.

    My interest is in helping to make a better web for eveyone. I'm highly motivated to find solutions that benefit your search engine ranking while also benefitting your customers.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  13. #13
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    For me a sitemap needs to contain all the pages of a site. That is products, privacy statment, articles, linkspages etc.

    Very often it is easy to find products on a site, but much harder to find various info about the site and the company. These are usually the cases when I resort to the sitemap (if available).

    Webmerge works with datafeed that normally only contains product information. So in order to produce a relevant sitemap I would need to insert non product related info into webmerge.

    If you want to produce a comprehensive sitemap with webmerge we would need to use like a 2nd datafeed that contains links and short descriptions for these other pages.
    Webmerge would then combine the 2 datafeeds to generate a sitemap.

    And to complicate things, some sites use more than on datafeed for different product lines...

    But yes, a sitemap feature would be great.

    And finally, here an example of what I consider to be a good sitemap (no idea who the guy is in the picture, I'm in Aussieland):
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/sitemap.html

  14. #14
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Every visible element is for human visitors. Search engines can bring you customers, but they don't buy anything themselves. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    You asked for opinions about site maps and here is sounds like you are disagreeing with a stated reason for needing/wanting one. Either you want and will listen to input or you will not. Please don't ask if you don't plan to listen.

    You may not agree with the reasons for site maps or the way some webmasters are going to use them, but don't sound condescending to those of us that post our needs/wants and have explained why.

    Site maps bring spiders, give spiders an easy way to get to all the pages on a site and *that* brings traffic. I have used them effectively to get entire sites of my own into search engines and have gotten resulting traffic and sales.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador buy_online's Avatar
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    There are two schools at work on this thread. I would only say that from an affilliate's perspective, the site-map must be (easily) navigable by non-humans. This means no Flash, and no image maps.

    If one can get a site map that works for the humans and the "others," cool!

    As for putting it all on one page - not possible. I have one site with over 250,000 pages. The path is there for visitors to follow though - in a basic (text-based) site-map.

    WebMerge would have to take information beyond a single data-feed file, in order to generate a proper map of any kind. What WebMerge can do, however is generate a top-level hierarchy for each datafeed - that's where the tool needs expanding though, and it might come in the form of being able to run several templates at the same time.

    Fred

  16. #16
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by loxly:
    You asked for opinions about site maps and here is sounds like you are disagreeing with a stated reason for needing/wanting one. Either you want and will listen to input or you will not. Please don't ask if you don't plan to listen. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Understood. I apologize for wording so carelessly that it came off like that. Not my intention.

    The problem is merely that a great many people are focusing on hits without focusing on converting those hits to sales. While you have the experience to be able to differentiate between the two and are getting results, the web is full of Snake Oil Sams who may mislead newcomers to the field, professing to be SEO "experts" but merely leading people down the road to exclusion with some of the shinannigans they recommend. To complicate things further, few of these "experts" have much in the way of hard data to back up their recommendations, and many of them contradict one another. To determine the actual weight of an element we must ask questions, and work hard to find real answers.

    With site maps, if we can satisfy both humans and spiders we can not only get hits but we also get sales, and we do so in a way that's impervious to exclusion. It may mean I have to work a bit harder to implement the feature, but I'm not opposed to a good day's work. That was my only point, and I apologize for not making it clear in my original post.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Site maps bring spiders, give spiders an easy way to get to all the pages on a site and *that* brings traffic. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    How many pages are at your site that aren't also linked to in the normal navigation?

    If sites are being published without a way for humans to get to the pages, it may be more helpful for me to work on a link-checker to find orhpaned pages than anything else.

    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>I have used them effectively to get entire sites of my own into search engines and have gotten resulting traffic and sales. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Good work. And it seems we're in complete agreement on the importance of focusing on conversion rates.

    That increase in sales is the most critical measurement. To better understand the role the site map played in that, the essential question is: When you noticed the increase was the only change the addition of a site map, or were there any other changes that might also have had a contributory effect?

    It's difficult to establish controls for testing something like this, because from a business perspective it usually doesn't make sense to add just a site map and do nothing else to a site for the many weeks it would take to see the effect. But without experimental controls, it's difficult to assesss the true weight of the site map itself.

    At many "SEO expert" sites there are formulas published which claim to be reverse-engineered algorithms for Googe's PageRank. Let's forget for a moment that some of these are many months old and Google's PageRank undergoes constant revision, and just walk with me here:

    If there is any grain of truth to these formulas, with so many outbound links and so few inbound, and all of them at the same domain, it would seem a site map would have little or no effect on a site that already has good navigation. Yet ironically, many of the same sites that publish these formulas also suggest that a site map is critical, with no explanation as to why except that it provides links to pages, yet those links (should) already exist in the normal human site navigation. :\

    Making a human-friendly site map accomplishes the same goal, for whatever value it might have, but also helps customers, which builds trust, which leads to sales. So even if it turns out that site maps have a negligible effect on PageRank, we've still made good use of our time by helping our customers.

    Moreoever, if there's anything we can discern about PageRank it's that Google is indeed making good on their claim to make it much "smarter", in the sense of looking at the whole context of the content it's indexing and weighting elements based on that conceptual context. The art of data mining is maturing, rapidly. The days of simple keyword optimization are slowly ending in favor of providing unique relevant content, and content that drives links from other highly-ranked sites. It may be that focusing on content production may be a better investment in the long run than link features.

    These considerations are important in this dialog if we are to arrive at truly valuable features and appropriate prioritization for them. Any hard evidence with appropriate experimental controls would be very helpful for this.

    I recognize that such controls are difficult to come by, but they are essential to understanding today's Google.
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

  17. #17
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>That increase in sales is the most critical measurement. To better understand the role the site map played in that, the essential question is: When you noticed the increase was the only change the addition of a site map, or were there any other changes that might also have had a contributory effect?
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
    My stats showed the site map page was the MOST hit page for several months. End of *my* arguement. You may continue to expound of course.
    Deborah Carney
    TeamLoxly.com BookGoodies.com ABCsPlus.com

  18. #18
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    <BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by loxly:
    My stats showed the site map page was the MOST hit page for several months. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That's useful data.

    What changed after that?

    And is this consistent with other peoples' experience with site maps?

    Seems like a strange anomaly in Google, counter to what most SEO folks suggest about how PageRank works. I wonder if the period ended because of refinements to Google.

    Anyone else have good data like that to share?
    Richard Gaskin
    Developer of WebMerge: Publish any data feed on any site
    http://www.fourthworld.com

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