You who deal every day with an e-commerce, do you know what a navigation map is? Because it gives indirect results to the virtual store, this important file is ignored by many managers who seek to optimize their indexing in search engines.
If you also do not understand well what the sitemap is for, we prepared this article telling you all about how to generate the file and what advantages it brings to your business. Let's go?
The navigation map, or sitemap, is a common technique used for a long time on the internet to trace the path to be followed within a website. Generally, this map is an XML or HTML file listing all available URLs, the connection between them, and how they are organized by sections, modification date, hierarchy, and other parameters.
Although there is no direct relationship between the sitemap and the ranking of your e-commerce site in search engines, there are several advantages that have made the solution a standard for stores that want to make the search for products more intuitive and faster. We will explain some of these advantages below.
The Difference Between XML and HTML Sitemap
There are two common ways to create a navigation map: in a sitemap.xml file or in a sitemap.html. While the XML format is mandatory, having both on your website is highly recommended.
The sitemap.xml file is made especially for search engine robots, which scan the information for all URLs and from there create an index for your e-commerce. It is essential for the structure of your site to be recognized and presented in the most appropriate way to the user who is searching for related terms.
It is also recommended to create a sitemap.html, which works as an index for the average user in a regular URL of the site. Although not mandatory, this is a page that presents the visitor with all the paths by sections and sectors in the store, and can be useful for finding some department that was not presented by the search engine.
The new e-commerce internal search tools are getting smarter and smarter and meeting this need, but the HTML file is still an interesting way to give more direction to the consumer.
The Importance of a Good Sitemap
What makes many e-commerce managers overlook the importance of a navigation map is that its results are really hard to notice at first. The sitemap acts on your online store in a much more indirect way than other SEO techniques, although it is just as important. Here are some of its advantages:
Search engine optimization
Although there is no noticeable impact of the sitemap on page rankings, indexing for results display improves considerably when the search engine robot can scan the file to define its structure.
Pages with a higher hierarchy and more relevant information about products, offers, and benefits stand out when a user searches for a particular brand or price of a good. With a faster path to what he wants, your conversion rate can improve significantly.
More organized architecture
Creating a navigation map can be an advantage even for your internal e-commerce organization. When creating the map, sorting problems, inconsistent relationships between URLs, and messy sections can arise and give you the opportunity to rework the site architecture. The more organized this file is, the easier it is for the robot to highlight the right pages.
Easier access to products
An organized map also makes it easier for the search engine to find the most popular and relevant URLs when displaying its results. This can create special well-ranked links to products that are more popular, have a higher conversion rate or a large number of visits. The shorter the path from interest to purchase decision, the less chance you give the customer to give up in the middle of the process.
Less dependence on external links
When the site does not have a navigation map, robots often use the relevance of external links to index your site. This creates problematic distortions, such as giving priority to URLs that are not that interesting for your e-commerce and turning them into landing pages. The sitemap is a way to tell the search engine what to highlight on your site, rather than letting it decide on its own.
Creating a Sitemap for Your E-Commerce Site
The sitemap can be created either manually or using tools that automate this work. If you prefer to do it yourself, you will need a professional with experience in programming languages to write instructions to the file generator. The advantage in this case is that you have more control and can generate a more customized XML.
But in most cases, a good specialized tool is able to crawl your site and automatically assemble the sitemap.xml file. The result is quite accurate and allows for some modification in case there is an error in the final result.
Once your navigation map is made in any of these methods, you just upload the XML and HTML files to the server and notify Google and other search engines. This will automatically let the robots access the document, read its content, and index it for future searches.
Identifying Problems with Indexing Your E-Commerce
If even with a generated and indexed sitemap, your store is having problems showing up well in searches, it could be that the problem lies one step before the creation of the sitemap, such as a flawed architecture or insufficient organization.
If this happens, it is preferable to go back to the e-commerce structure and understand where the source of the problem is, and only then redo your sitemap. Stress tests and other tests performed by bots can be an efficient and cost-effective way to optimize your conversion, improve your ranking, and increase your revenue.
After all, in a market as competitive as e-commerce, where a small obstacle is enough to lose a consumer to the competitor, having a well-organized virtual store and a navigation map that reflects this architecture is essential to achieve that extra advantage in the fight for the customer.
So, any questions? Do you want to know more about how a site's architecture can make a difference in your rankings? Leave your question here in the comments!