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