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June 26, 2017How a sitemap increased BBC Shop’s Traffic by 10% in one month

One of the most underestimated SEO concepts is that of the sitemap. While creating a sitemap isn’t a new thing – it’s definitely something that’s been remediated as a simple, and unremarkable task. You will never look at sitemaps the same, after hearing what we have to say. It’s crazy, but what if I told you a sitemap helped increase SEO traffic by 10% in just one month?

The situation

Qumana is the SEO agency of record for the BBC Shop(www.shop.bbc.com). The shop is built on Venda. The issue is, many of the category, and sub-category, pages generated through this platform appear “blank,” to search engines, due to javascript etc. As a result, many of product pages, are essentially orphan pages. This meant hundred’s of pages had no “SEO Juice,” flowing to them via internal links. In lay terms, it meant that they were “weak,” in terms of potential SEO rankings. When the BBC Shop switched from it’s old platform to the Venda platform, a reduction in rankings was noted for many of the products. It can be said that because they were orphan pages, they were performing poorly.

Background info about sitemaps

Sitemaps, as the name suggests, are a map of your website. It’s a page, that shows the navigation structure of your site. Sitemaps enable users, and search engines, to navigate your site – and updating it frequently is a good way to ensure search engines are aware of new pages. Sitemaps have been a part of best Web design practices, for a while now. Typically, they are created, and then never looked at again.

What we did

We created a global sitemap, that is crawlable, and renderable, by Google. After creating it, we embedded it into the footer navigation bar (thus making it so internal links were created to it, from every single page of the BBC Shop website). It was added into the footer June of 2015.

  • Even though category/sub-category pages are not crawlable, there exists a tether between the category page + the product pages, as a result of the sitemap. Since every single page of the website is linked to the sitemap, and the sitemap has internal links to all the products, there was an “SEO” channel through which link juice could flow to the products.

sitemap

The SEO results

Point blank, within a period of 30-35 days, we saw a 10% increase in organic traffic to the website. Without “revealing,” any info that might disclose confidential information, i’ve attached a screenshot from Google analytics. The link to the sitemap was added into footer in the month of June.

 bbc-analytics

Conclusions

The BBC shop has ALWAYS had a sitemap. The results of this case study should not be misinterpreted. It’s not that we didn’t have a sitemap, and then created one out of the blue. What we did was embed an internal, site-wide, link to the sitemap.

  • There were no internal links from category pages to product pages. The sitemap, which was in the footer of EVERY single page of the website, acted as “leap-frog” mechanism through which crawlers could see a “connection” between the category/subcategory pages and the product pages.

Untitled Diagram

At the very least, a new “best practice,” of hyperlinking to the sitemap from every single page of your website – may have advisable. If you are similar to the BBC shop, and have an issue with Google being unable to crawl your pages, then this may act as a mechanism through which you can funnel link juice to product pages.

Definitions

Orphan Pages: Pages that have no internal links pointing to them in your website. Internal links are a way for search engines to understand if a page is important or not. Internal links pass SEO juice, to the destination page, and enhance the destination pages authority.

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