Many webmasters use sitemaps as a way of ensuring that the most important categories and pages of their websites get included within the Google search engines index and can be found by the freshbots / deepbots (now combined into freshdeepbot) of Google. Generally this sitemap is a page linked to directly from the index page of the website (if not from all pages of the site) so that the main pages can be found within 2 clicks from the homepage. This sitemap will have html links (sometimes accompanied by text descriptions other times it is just a catalog of links).
Google openly states that webmasters should keep the links per page down to less than 100 links “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number (fewer than 100).” Therefore, these sitemaps will have no more than 100 links, thus a sitemap is only good for sites with 100 pages or less until you must create a second sitemap. I’m sure all would agree and index page with “sitemap1, sitemap2….sitemap50″ is ridiculous. Generally, I try to keep my navigation models and link architecture rather flat and accessible, eliminating the need for such sitemaps.
Many webmasters (myself included) use links pages in order to attract suitable reciprocal link exchange partners in order to receive their pagerank in the first place. Most webmasters insist on linking with only those who have a link directly to their links page from their homepage. Fair enough – we all want our links to be found. However, lets again take the example of an index with 100 weight points and 10 links. Again each link will receive 8.5 weight points (see previous page). Seeing as 1 of these 10 links is your links page, the majority of your 8.5 links page’s hard earned weight points had to be sacrificed to your links partners.
Or did they’
Remembering that the PR is split between all links on a given page up to 100, the PR that went to your “links” page should be split between your partners and your main navigation (staying preferably under 50 per page). To keep it simple we will say 10 main pages. Thus your typical distribution of PR from a “links” page such as this would be that 1/6 of the PR is reinvested into your system and 5/6 of the links pages PR is given to your link partners. Now it’s the time to think about the sitemap. Not for the purpose of getting spidered and indexed, but for PR conservation. Imagine that instead of just placing your main 10 links for your navigation on the “links” page, you placed an extra 40 of your sub pages on the each page of your “links” directory, as well as bringing you to the limit of 100 per links directory page. Now the PR will be split 100 ways with half going to your link partners (still fair) and half getting re-injected into you internal system. Ask yourself which is better, 1/6 or 1/2′ The answer is obvious.
Now if you have a larger site, think of this for page inclusion: one link to the main links.html from the index, 50 links to your links partners, and 50 split between links1, links2….links50.html. Each of those 50 “links directory” pages has unique links to 50 of your internal sub-pages, getting 2500 of your main, secondary, and tertiary pages indexed within a maximum of 3 clicks from your homepage. Remember every links page recaptures 50% of its PR. Not too shaby.