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Efficiently Plan Your Site Map:
A Comprehensive Guide To Mapping And Creating A Visual Sitemap

By Jim Traister
Table of Contents
visual sitemap displayed underneath a very focused light

Creating a site map can feel overwhelming. This article shows you how to use it, making the process simple and effective.

Key Takeaways

Understanding Site Map: Definition and Importance

A site map is a visual representation of the structure of your website, outlining its pages and content in an organized manner.

Creating a site map for your website is crucial, as it helps visitors and search engine crawlers navigate through your site with ease.

What is meant by a visual site map?

A site map lists all the pages on a website. It helps search engines like Google find and understand your site. Think of it as a map for the internet to use.

These formats help your website show up better in search results.

Having a visual sitemap is also key. It’s like a diagram that shows how each part of your website connects without needing to read code. This makes planning your website easier, whether you’re creating something new or redoing an old one.

For example, the below is a site map that we created for a client’s redesign of his restaurant business website that represents his homepage and you might get some ideas for your own sitemap:

local restaurant business owner's site map

Visual sitemaps let you see the structure and navigation at a glance, making it simple to spot where improvements are needed.

What is the best tool for creating a visual sitemap?

After learning what a site map is, you might wonder how to get one for your website. Getting a site map can start with using tools like Milanote or Slickplan.

Both of the tools allow you to create visual sitemaps easily.

You can learn a little more about what is Milanote in the following video:

Play Video about Milanote

And you can learn a little more about What is a Slickplan here:

Play Video about Slickplan

For those of you that are more technical, you can also use software to generate XML sitemaps if you prefer those formats.

To begin, choose a tool that fits your needs—visual tools help in planning content and structure while showing relationships between pages. For something more technical, XML generators detail every page on your website in a format search engines love.

Either way, the process involves choosing a type of sitemap, entering your website’s details, and letting the tool do its work. In no time, you’ll have a well-organized guide to help both users and search engines navigate your site better.

What should be included in a sitemap?

An effective sitemap should contain all website categories and pages, showcasing their hierarchical structure.

Make Things New

Examples of Website Categories for a restaurant’s website:

Online food ordering made easy: stay at home and enjoy delivery services at your fingertips through our website categorized for your convenience.

  • Menu & Dining Experience
  • Reservations & Booking
  • About Us
  • Location & Contact
  • Events & Special Occasions
  • Gallery & Virtual Tour
  • Reviews & Testimonials
  • Blog & News
  • Social Media Integration
  • Online Ordering & Delivery

Examples of Website Categories for a Nail Salon’s website:

Nail Salon’s website

  • Services Offered
  • Booking & Appointments
  • About Us
  • Location & Contact Information
  • Gallery of Nail Designs
  • Customer Reviews & Testimonials
  • Nail Care Tips & Tutorials
  • Special Promotions & Packages
  • Meet the Team (Staff Profiles)
  • FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Examples of Website Categories for a Roofing Company’s website:

Roofing Company’s website

  • Roofing Services
  • Free Estimates & Consultations
  • About Us
  • Service Area & Contact Information
  • Portfolio of Past Projects
  • Customer Testimonials & Reviews
  • Roofing Tips & Maintenance Advice
  • Special Offers & Financing Options
  • Meet the Team (Staff Profiles)
  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Our local restaurant client’s sitemap demonstrates the hierarchical structure of his homepage:

Play Video about homepage sitemap example of local restaurant client

A sitemap can also include site content types, such as articles, blogs, products, and services – each piece is an integral part of the visual representation.

Our client’s homepage mentioned above needs to be connected to all his other pages, as demonstrated by an abbreviated snapshot of the sitemap below:

Play Video about hierarchical example of sitemap

The inclusion of metadata like titles and descriptions further enriches its value for search engines to effectively crawl the site.

The use of tools like Milanote ensures a collaborative effort with stakeholders early on in the project. The focus on brainstorming categories, organizing them into clusters using lines to indicate relationships will truly bring your sitemap to life.

How do I visualize a sitemap?

To create a visual sitemap, start by brainstorming your website categories.

Organize them in a structured hierarchy and then finalize for sharing. To learn more about this essential step in website planning, read on!

Brainstorm your website categories

When planning your site map, start by brainstorming the different categories that will represent your website’s content. Consider using tools like MindMeister or Milanote to visually organize and connect related concepts.

Collaborate with your team and engage in discussion to identify the most relevant and effective categories for a well-structured site map.

Make Things New

10 Questions to help you get started to Visualize a Sitemap

What are the primary categories or sections you envision for your website?

Can you describe the hierarchy of pages, starting from the homepage and branching out?

Are there any subcategories or nested levels within each main section of your website?

Do you have any specific pages or functionalities that should be highlighted as central elements in the sitemap?

Have you considered the user journey and navigation flow when structuring your website's sitemap?

Are there any external links or connections to other websites that should be included in the sitemap?

Have you identified any important call-to-action elements or conversion points that need to be incorporated into the sitemap?

Are there any dynamic or interactive components of your website that should be represented in the sitemap?

Have you thought about incorporating visual cues or icons to enhance the clarity and usability of the sitemap?

Do you have any preferences regarding the visual style or format of the sitemap, such as a traditional tree diagram or a more modern flowchart design?

This process is vital for creating a clear structure that accurately represents the content on your site and provides a user-friendly experience.

Organize your categories

First, brainstorm different categories for your website. Next, arrange these categories in a logical order that makes navigation easy for users. Then, create a clear hierarchy by organizing subcategories under main categories.

Finally, share the organized site map with your team for feedback and collaboration.

Add structure & hierarchy

To effectively add structure and hierarchy to your visual sitemap, begin by organizing the categories of your website logically. Use Milanote, a site mapping tool, to create a well-organized visual sitemap.

This tool will help you show the relationship between different website pages and ensure a clear hierarchy. Utilize the provided sitemap template for planning out the content of your site in an organized way, allowing you to easily finalize and share your visual sitemap with others.

Finalize and share your site map

Finalize your visual sitemap by adding example images and sketching the basic page layout using Milanote. Share the completed sitemap with your team for collaboration.

Collaborate early in the project to keep everyone on the same page.

Our client’s final sitemap looked like this:

Play Video about Business client's sitemap example

Benefits of Using a Site Mapping Tool

Using a site mapping tool provides valuable benefits to streamline the website design process. This empowers designers, copywriters, and marketers to create a well-organized sitemap that enhances search engine optimization (SEO) efforts.

The use of a visual sitemap tool like Milanote encourages early collaboration among team members, ensuring everyone is aligned throughout the website project. Additionally, it allows for the creation of rich, visual sitemaps that go beyond traditional static sitemaps, making it easier to quickly find web pages and understand the structure of the website.

How do I find my Google sitemap?

To find your Google sitemap, first log in to your Google Search Console account. Look for the “Sitemaps” section under the “Index” menu on the left side.
demo of google console sitemap location
Here, you will see if a sitemap has been submitted already or not.
demo of google console sitemap submittal status

If you haven’t submitted one yet, click ‘Add a new sitemap’ and enter the URL of your sitemap file. Press ‘Submit’ to finish.

demo of where to add a new sitemap to Google Console

Google will start to process your sitemap immediately after submission. This helps search engines better understand the structure of your website, making it easier for people to find their way around.

Keep an eye on any errors that might pop up so you can fix them quickly. Checking back regularly allows you to ensure everything is running smoothly and updates are recognized by search engines.

Conclusion

In conclusion, creating a visual sitemap is crucial for efficient website planning. Milanote provides a free and user-friendly tool for designing and mapping out the structure of your website.

By following the guide, you can effectively collaborate with your team to create a rich and practical visual sitemap that underpins your web design process. This comprehensive approach not only simplifies complexities but also enhances your ability to plan tailored content, ultimately leading to an organized and successful website launch.

Picture of Jim Traister
Jim Traister

Founder & CEO

Jim is the CEO and founder of MakeThingsNew, a digital marketing agency he launched to provide services such as affordable website design, website maintenance, web hosting, email marketing, and ongoing SEO for his client’s projects. He earned a Master of Business with a specialization in Technology Management from the University of Phoenix. Jim launched his first digital marketing agency in 2012 and has since dedicated himself to serving independent business owners. Additionally, he has taught at the college and university level for several years, teaching courses such as Information Technology in Hospitality and Tourism, Marketing, and more. Prior to opening his first marketing agency in 2012, Jim had accumulated over sixteen years of business experience.

Learn more

Frequently Asked Questions

A site map is like a blueprint for your website, showing the structure of your web pages. It helps search engines find and crawl your site, making sure people can discover your content.
Yes, you can! Tools like Slickplan are there to help you visualize the structure of your website easily. This makes planning and sharing your ideas with others straightforward.
Absolutely – an XML sitemap is for search engines to read, helping them see which pages exist on your website. A visual sitemap, however, is more about planning the layout and user experience (UX) for humans.
Not really! While tools like Slickplan make it easier, you can start by sketching out ideas on paper or using free online resources to generate both XML and visual sitemaps.
When redesigning, mapping out a new structure lets you reorganize content effectively around what works best for users – ensuring they find what they’re looking for without confusion.
Yes – it guides search engines through each page of your site efficiently; this means better visibility in search results as every piece of content gets noticed.