I’d like to elaborate on some information about Web site maps included in the article, “Smart real estate marketing strategies for 2005.” Some added information could help readers from having their Web sites banned from search engines.

The article about Web marketing suggests adding a site map to your real estate Web site. Specifically, the article states:

“Include a site map: A site map summarizes the content of your Web site, usually at the bottom of your home page.

I’d like to elaborate on some information about Web site maps included in the article, “Smart real estate marketing strategies for 2005.” Some added information could help readers from having their Web sites banned from search engines.

The article about Web marketing suggests adding a site map to your real estate Web site. Specifically, the article states:

“Include a site map: A site map summarizes the content of your Web site, usually at the bottom of your home page. In many cases, the site map is only visible to the search engine, rather than to your Web visitors. Most search engines only ‘spider’ (read) your home page. This means the search engine may not access all the features on your site. To circumvent this difficulty, ask your Web site provider whether your current site has a site map. If not, add one as soon as possible.”

A site map by definition is a directory of a Web site with links to all of the pages on it.

Site maps are search-engine-spider-friendly

Search engines do not “only spider your home page.” This would defeat the whole purpose of a search-engine spider, which is to follow hyperlinks. “Spidering” only the home page occurs when a Web site’s code has “spiderability” issues that inhibit the spider from following all available Web site links. This is why site maps are a great addition to real estate Web site. Now the spider can crawl all of the links within a Web site even if the site employs advanced technologies such as Flash and JavaScript.

Site maps give search-engine spiders all of the possible links to information on your Web site, so that they will crawl and index all of the pages in your real estate Web site. This increases your Web site’s visibility on search engines and gives you the best chance of having all of the site’s URLs included in a search engine’s index.

Site maps are user-friendly

Site maps give real estate Web site users quick access to all the pages in a Web site. Site maps let visitors know what information you have, how it’s organized, and where it’s located on your Web site.

How many times have you been on a search engine and searching for say “widgets” when you see a search-engine result that looks to be all about widgets, but when you get to that page there is nothing about widgets? The first thing I do in this situation is look for a site map. The site map helps me locate the widgets page, and I am happy and will revisit the Web site in the future when looking for information about widgets. This is why I love site maps.

Text-only visible to search engines

In addition, I would not encourage anyone to include text that is “only visible to search engines.”

Search engines consider this practice “spam.” The MSN Guidelines specifically say: “You should use only text and links that are visible to users,” and other text may cause a Web site to be penalized or worse banned.

A real estate Web site should be both user-friendly and search-engine-friendly. This is what makes a site map such a great addition.

If you would like to read more on search-engine spam, an excellent article can be found on Search Engine Watch from the last Search Engine Strategies Conference titled: What Exactly Is Search Engine Spam?

Natasha Robinson is the online marketing director for Official Desktop, a Web marketing company for the real estate industry.

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