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Avangate Acquires 2Checkout to Expand Payment Flexibility and Broaden Market Reach

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Combined company will bring a unique combination of eCommerce and subscription management solutions to market through various payment models across the globe.
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Avangate Acquires 2Checkout

Create a Sitemap for More Traffic and Better Navigation

Make an Accessible Sitemap

The sitemap is as important to a website as the homepage, "contact" or "about us" pages are, as it lists all the pages on the website, organized hierarchically. Its main function is to help visitors and engine bots to find pages on the website. Even some of the biggest and best design websites forget to spend a little time on their sitemaps, making them more confusing than revealing. Here's why a well-built sitemap is important:
  • Search engines follow the sitemap to "understand" a site's structure, and after that they add info to their database. Search engines use software tools such as "web crawlers", "web bots" or "spiders" to find the pages and their contents and then save a link to the database. When somebody types in a keyword for searching, the engine searches through its database for links. The more pages are indexed on the search engine's database, the higher the chances for the website to turn up in a search, and therefore get more visitors;
  • Users often use the sitemap when navigation on a website is not clear. Make a sitemap to improve the performance of the information searching and the accessibility to the website, making sure that all pages can be found, especially if the site uses Macromedia Flash or JavaScript menus, that don't include HTML links.
Sitemaps are recommended for both small and large websites. A visible sitemap link is especially recommended for large websites. On a small website, the sitemap can have links to every single page and it doesn't have to follow the site's folder structure. Different categories can be presented in a directory-like format or as a table of contents. This type of organization is normally used for sites that contain 100 pages or less. On the other hand, if a website has more than 100 pages is not considered user-friendly to link every page from the sitemap. On a website with less than 10.000 pages, a good sitemap must emphasize links to core pages throughout the site. To optimize up to a dozen different content categories means to include a brief description of each core page, which will make it easier for both visitors and web bots to navigate the themes of such a large website. Websites with more than 10.000 pages, such as vast corporate sites, can organize their sitemap by creating multiple layers of core hierarchal content, with links to different products, services or business divisions. Also, corporate websites may adopt the location-based sitemaps, which provide visitors with quick access to country specific information, developed to address different language needs. 8 Rules to create a good sitemap Given the benefits of having a sitemap both for search engine optimization and enhanced user experience, here are a few rules on how to build it:
  • Try to create an accessible sitemap. In order to establish this task, the sitemap should be linked from your homepage as well as from every page of your website. Thus, search engines can find this link directly from your homepage and follow it from there; users can find it from anywhere on your site, should they prefer to search through your site via the sitemap.
  • Try to create keyword-rich text and also use "title" attributes for each link you add in the sitemap. Link titles should be less than 80 characters long. Use colors to indicate visited links. (preferably by using web conventional colors).
  • Limit the number of pages listed on the sitemap to 30, in order to make it easier for visitors to read through it and find what they need. This may lead to splitting the sitemap into more than one page. Make sure that each of the sitemap pages link to the next one and the previous one.
  • A sitemap should allow the visitor to see the entire architecture of the website at a single glance, so it shouldn't stretch on more than two-and-a-half times the window size;
  • Use the same basic look for the sitemap as for the other pages on your website, ensuring consistency;
  • Many users don't know about the existence of sitemaps and get lost trying to find information on a website. That's why you have to make sure the link to the sitemap page is highly visible. Name the link simply "Sitemap" and don't use graphical drawings to illustrate it, as not all users know Internet symbols;
  • A static representation of the architecture is preferred to the dynamic expanding view, so visitors don't have to work harder to get to what they're interested in. Don't try to show off your designing skills on this particular page.
  • Make sure that the information is organized in a manner that makes sense to the users. Include all important areas of your website.
Maybe the most important aspect of a sitemap is to remember why you've made it: to be a guide, a map of your website that will ease visitors access, so you should keep it simple. Visitors won't like a non-standard interface. Instead, use compact, easy to follow layouts of links.

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