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Small Business Websites: Link Building and Sitemap Q&A

Small Business Websites: Link Building and Sitemap Q&A

Posted on 01.06.2011

The seminars at Small Business BC have been going very well with attendance up from the winter. Recently, I delivered seminars to fairly full rooms at Waterfront Station in Vancouver joined by a number of video conferences attendees from cities like Prince Rupert, Langley, Ashcroft, Kelowna and Saskatoon. One of the attendees emailed me asking some great questions about link building, social media sites and sitemaps. So, instead of keeping that contained within an email, I’ve decided to include that dialogue as a blog post here. Hopefully, other small business people who are starting to build their website read this and learn a little bit.

Question: Hi Kevin! I enjoyed the seminar and learn a great deal, however, I am confused about “linking” I know it is important to build links. Am I trying to build links into our website. What about building links away from our website, is that the same importance? I have a flickr site for images which I posted on (link) my website that takes people AWAY from our website so I got rid of it. However, it is valuable for me to link TO our website from Flickr. Should I do both? Does it matter or is one better than the other?

Yes, you want other websites to link to you. That’s important. And it’s OK to have the occasional link going out, especially if it’s to one of your social media pages like Flickr. Just make sure that any link you have going out of your site is set to open in a new window or tab. In html notation, you link should look something like this.

<a href="" target="_blank">View my Pictures on Flickr</a>

Question: Our website is pretty simple and really doesn’t need a Site Map. You suggest we put a site map on our website and then submit it to Google to help increase google rankings. Can we submit our website without a Site Map for this purpose?

In my opinion, every website should have a sitemap. It’s just best practice and makes search engines happy. That sitemap should be submitted to Google use Google Webmaster Tools. You can also submit your website to Google without the sitemap as follows. But you’re still relying on the search engine spiders to click through and find all of your pages and content. For small sites, you can get by without a sitemap but it might take a bit longer to get index in Google.

And as always, I’m open to learning as well. So, if you want to add to the conversation or teach me a lesson or two, just comment below.

Comments (8)

  • Could you tell me how to check my links?  I want to know what the search engine has indexed for my site.

    • Hi Sherry,
      If you want to know how many pages on your site are index in Google, just type “” and it will show you all the pages Google has indexed.As for links, one of the easiest ways to check how many inbound links your website has is to use Yahoo’s Site Explorer.
      Enter your domain name into the field at the top of this page and the click “Explore URL”
      Click on the “Inlinks” button on the left
      and then set the “Show Inlinks” filter on the right to “Except from this domain”
      That will show you how many links are going into your site from outside websites. You can also install a Firefox extension which does this faster and for each website you visit.

  • I am not certain what a site map is.  I thought it would be in the header of the website.  I notice you do not have one on Yardstick which of course is wrong, so where is it? 

    • Hi Sherry
      A sitemap is basically an index or listing of all of the pages in your site.  We use an extension called XMap which creates the sitemap dynamically from Joomla.  You’ll find the link to an XML version at the bottom right and in the footer of the page…incidentally, in positions that few humans will click on or notice but which is sufficient for search engine spiders.

  • My website does not have a site map and SquareSpace platform advises against it.  here is their comments, what do you think? Hi there,
    Squarespace does not offer a Site Map feature. Sitemaps
    generally aren’t needed for Squarespace sites. Sitemaps assist search engines
    index convoluted structures (e-commerce sites, and other sites with odd URL structures). Your Squarespace site is linked together using clean URLs in a simple to follow fashion, which is how Google has been indexing sites for 7 years.
    We don’t recommend manually creating a sitemap, since you’d be attempting to list your URLs for your site by hand — whereas just letting Google normally index your site will be much more accurate.

    • Google WILL find all of the pages eventually (knock on wood).  But it’s always faster and more thorough to submit your sitemap to Google using Webmaster Tools.  This way Google receives the entire index to your site and doesn’t have to find each page by clicking on the links/menu items within your site.

  • There are approximately 200 points of criteria that Google uses to determine the ranking for any website, but these can be condensed into three basic categories: content, relevancy and popularity. All three are important, but it’s popularity that ultimately wins high ranking. And good links will win popularity.

Comments are closed.