I have a B2B parts website with about:
- 25 parent categories (organized hierarchically)
- 150 leaf categories (models)
- 250 products (unique articles, each with quantity = 1)
Target visitors are looking for a specific spare part.
Generally, they do not hesitate between several brands and products, as in the consumer segment.
The site is intended for specialists (niche market).
Despite several optimizations, the site remains poorly referenced in the search results, compared to those of the competitors.
I must admit that I am not a fan of social networks, so there are only few links to the site, coming from specialized forums.
Publishing many products on the homepage can help reference the site, but would also create duplicate content with dedicated product pages.
In this thread, the general consensus is that there is no problem using a txt sitemap instead of an XML. However, I am not sure of this in the context where the pages to be indexed are buried in the middle of the hierarchy and that the search engines ignore the intermediate levels.
How pages are currently indexed
Google was able to index pages for sheet categories and products, which were provided via two text sitemaps (URL lists):
Site map with leaf categories:
Site map with products:
The products are mainly accessible via a search field, where the visitor enters the model he wishes to acquire for spare part (s). The model name is used as Friendly URL and
.htaccess file redirects directly to the sheet category page.
# Currently, no friendly URL for intermediate categories (branches).
# Friendly URL for sheet categories (templates)
RewriteRule ^ A_model $ /index.php?cmd=category&cat_id=123 [L]
RewriteRule ^ Another_model $ /index.php?cmd=category&cat_id=124 [L]
Category pages contain links to unique spares.
Friendly URLs are also used and redirection is done with
# Friendly URL for unique products
RewriteRule ^ A_product $ /index.php?cmd=products&prod_id=456
RewriteRule ^ Another_product $ /index.php?cmd=products&prod_id=789
For the convenience of the user, if only one spare part is available for a given model, there is an automatic redirection of the sheet category page to the single product page, so that the address of the category behaves like a tiny URL (or a gateway if you prefer). on the product page.
If the visitor wants Browse Categorieshe can do it if a Ajaxified tree whose developed nodes load the subcategories on the fly. (For this, the site uses dynatree.js with a delayed load.)
So, the robots are aware of the relevant landing pages for sale (sheet categories and product pages) but – because they do not have an XML sitemap -, the site may appear to them as unstructured (no hierarchical structure they know).
Why I used .txt sitemaps rather than the .xml so far:
- Simplified Maintenance: I just need to add a new link when a new product or category is released.
- Targeted visitors are experts in their field,
who from the beginning know which model / piece they are looking for.
- Intermediate categories (tree branches) are almost irrelevant – apart from
see the different families of products available – and therefore does not need to be referenced.
- Do I have to create friendly URLs for intermediate categories and add
the site map in order to make the site more structured, given
that these pages would create duplicate content with the sheet
categories and product pages?
- In this particular case, should I to switch from .txt sitemaps to XML? (although the interview would be much more difficult).
- I plan to replace ajaxified tree with an ajaxified navigation based on tags (filters). Would that make SEO even worse?
- Since the homepage looks more or less like a search engine (ie, with little content), would you recommend adding "blah blah blah" to it – even if it is useless for the visitor – to attract more traffic?