Why Create a Site Map?

Just 5 years ago, I’d occasionally stumble upon websites possessing a page called “site map” or “sitemap.” That page presented a long list of the entire contents of the site. I found such lists very useful. I could skim them quickly to locate exactly what I hoped to find. Or to determine that the information I wanted was not present. Often I’d discover hidden gems I hadn’t been seeking, but that I was glad to acquire.

I liked site maps. I wished that every website possessed one.

angled metal tracks on an electronic circuit board

Unfortunately the trend was moving away from my preference. Somehow it was decided that the sole purpose of a site map was to ensure that Google’s crawlers – and those of other search engines – could locate each web page efficiently, so that the page could be listed by the search company in their search results.

Now, I like relevant search. Very much. When I google something, I want the best result to appear on the first page. And perhaps site maps were always geared to ensure that this happens. Perhaps they were never intended to help human visitors. But these days, the site maps are all actively hidden from human browsers, tucked away where only crawler bots can see them. I think that’s a shame.

I’ve tried using the search boxes available on most websites. I’ve tried clicking on the by-the-month archive links. And the category links. But not only do these methods often fail to deliver what I seek, but they have little chance of turning up the hidden gems that I don’t know are present.

It’s a shame. Totally a shame.

However, there’s no reason my own site must participate in this great omission. I’ve had creating a site map on my to-do list for a long time.

It didn’t seem urgent at first, because my site didn’t have much content. In the summer of 2012, I had only 3 books published – each of which possessed its own web page – and I’d written a mere dozen or so blog posts. No doubt most visitors absorbed it all in under 10 minutes and then moved on, unimpressed. “Huh. There wasn’t much to that.”

Today it’s a very different site! This is my 238th post. I have 19 books published – each with its own web page. I’ve created 15 “lore” pages for readers who want to know more about the North-lands and the other worlds in which my stories take place. Plus there are the miscellaneous pages such as my bio, a sign-up for my newsletter, a landing page, and so on.

There’s a lot of content present. And since I don’t tend to write many ephemeral newsy posts, the material retains its interest for quite a long time.

But if no one can find my post on the limits of obtaining vitamin D from sunlight or my explanation of how magic works in my North-lands, then the posts may as well not exist.

I decided this week that it was time to tackle my site map. One intended for humans!

Multitasking, photo by Jenn Vargas

The task took longer than I thought it would. I suspect that is often the case with such projects. There is software to automate the process. But it seemed likely that it would take me just as long to learn the software as it would to create my site map by hand. And I believe the software tends to generate the proverbial wall of text.

Admittedly, all the site maps I’ve ever seen were walls of text. They were useful in that format, and I could have settled for such a basic list.

But I knew that if I grouped the list into related categories, it would be a lot more accessible and thus a lot more useful.

So I’ve done just that. Check it out! 😀

Site Map

I’ll lay you a wager that you’ll find something I wrote back in 2012 or 2013 or 2014 that tickles your fancy. Am I right? Tell me what post or page it was in the comments! 😀

For more about blogging:
Copyright Statement for My Website
Slow Blogging and Other Variations
SPAM Deluge
New Home Page

 

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8 thoughts on “Why Create a Site Map?

  1. Oh, goody! This has been on the top of my list for a while, though disguised as ‘organize posts and make new tabs for related ones.’

    I saw yours – very nice. That’s what I had in mind.

    BUT – have you managed to automate the process, or are you going to just add each post to the right place from now on? Automation would be nice (though I’d probably have to go re-do the tags and categories for every single post.

    Glad the task is behind you – any posts where you blog about the process will be devoured.

    • No automation, I’m afraid. I figured that it will be so easy to add each new post that I don’t really need it.

      My method? I typed all my post titles and page titles into an Open Office file (a Word file or even Scrivner should work just as well) and organized the list into the order and the categories I wanted. Then I copied and pasted the organized list into the ‘new post’ window of my blog desktop.

      Then, for each item in my list:
      • I highlighted the title and copied it
      • With the text still highlighted, I clicked the ‘link’ button
      • In the link window, I checked the ‘open in a new tab’ box (because I want the link to open a new tab, allowing the visitor to my site to keep the site map open)
      • Still in the link window, I pasted the copied text into the search box; this brings the post or page to the top of the list of possibilities
      • I selected the correct post or page from that list
      • I clicked okay, which returned me to my in-progress site map, with the title turned into a link
      • Then I did the same for the next title on my list!

      All of that sounds a lot more involved than it truly was. Yes, it did take several hours, because I had nearly 300 items on my list. But it was super satisfying to get it done and to get it done right.

      • I have already wandered far back in your archives – but I will remember when I come to poke around more, just to make sure it works – and to see what else you have.

        I’ve even thought of putting out an older post periodically, like a ‘blast from the past.’ Other people do that.

        • Just teasing. 😀 You were already “here” in 2012. I just re-read your first comment!

          I, too, have seen others do ‘blasts from the past.’

    • Good question. The books on the Kaunis Clan page are listed in chronological order. Sarvet’s Wanderyar takes place when Sarvet is a teen. Crossing the Naiad occurs at the very beginning of her wanderyar. Livli’s Gift is about Sarvet’s daughter, and Sarvet herself is in her fifties. (I think. I’d have to check my notes to be sure.) Winter Glory is about Sarvet’s mother and father, but takes place several years after Livli’s Gift. I want to write a short intro paragraph for the Kaunis Clan web page, presenting the ‘hook’ for the stories.

      The Lodestone Tales are also listed in order and would also benefit from an intro paragraph.

      I should probably rearrange the order in which the North-lands Stories appear on their page. I put Troll-magic first, simply because it is the novel, while the others are novellas. But Perilous Chance and The Troll’s Belt take place at around the same time as Troll-magic, while the events in Hunting Wild occur hundreds of years earlier.

      (Of course, the Lodestone Tales and the Kaunis Clan Saga are also stories in my North-lands, but that’s another issue altogether!)

      As of yet, the only connection between my Mythic Tales is that they were each inspired by the history and mythologies of our world, so there is no chronology from one to the next.

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