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I have a site where users can only get to most of the sites content through search. If I make a sitemap that has the URLs for all of the potential searches is it ok that these pages cannot be click navigated to?

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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

It's not good for SEO but it's not horrible, either. Internal links are an overlooked aspect of SEO and can be very beneficial towards improving your rankings. Obviously you won't be able to take advantage of this by using a search based navigation scheme.

But if you have a sitemap, preferably HTML and XML, the search engines will be able to find your content and index it accordingly.

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Search engines can find and index the content via a sitemap, but if there are no links pointing to those pages from anywhere it is less likely that they will index them, and even if they do, it is very unlikely that they will rank for any search terms. –  joshuahedlund May 2 '12 at 18:33
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Here is an alternative:

basecamp.com utilizes a minimum menu structure on the top of the page. In fact they have essentially turned every page into a landing page focused on conversion. This is good, but at the bottom of all the pages (except the homepage) they have created a footer menu.

Mimicking something like this would allow you to focus on search navigation (btw even google search has a menu) on the top and yet still retain a menu/navigation of sorts on the bottom.

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Why is this asinine? –  Abe Miessler May 2 '12 at 18:47
    
It completely goes against all usability standards. It also would be terrible from an SEO standpoint. I think that you would be better served with some sort of navigation. And I have proved it time and again by changing navigation on sites I've owned/managed with positive results. –  Chris Kluis May 2 '12 at 19:24
    
Hardly seems asinine. Stuff like this might be obvious to you, but I have little experience with SEO, which is why I am here. I apologize if the question seems like a waste of your time. –  Abe Miessler May 2 '12 at 23:00
    
Also, this is for a word lookup site (helps find words for crossword, scrabble, words with friends etc). There over 170,000 words and I can't really see how click navigation would help improve usability for something like this, can you? –  Abe Miessler May 2 '12 at 23:00
    
Deleted negative comment. Sorry for the rudeness. Regarding click navigation in something along those lines. You would definitely need to think long and hard about how to structure it. Some very quick (not well thought out) options: 3 letter words, 4 letter words, etc. Words that start with letter [x], Words that end with letter [x]. In your case navigation might not be as useful for usability, but it would still be necessary if you were trying to rank each page for the word. I think instead you should probably focus on some sort of social/link building to ease the SEO concerns. –  Chris Kluis May 3 '12 at 13:05
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yes, it's a big deal for both SEO and the Users, it's a sign of bad information architecture and bad usability.

an article on SEOMoz about the issue states exactly the answer you are looking for:

Spiders will not attempt to perform searches to find content, and thus, it's estimated that millions of pages are hidden behind completely inaccessible internal search box walls.

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Google does submit some forms now so this article is a bit out of date –  John Conde May 2 '12 at 17:19
    
@John true, but I'm not sure that Google puts text into search fields. Even if they do they don't know what is a relevant search term for the site. –  DisgruntledGoat May 2 '12 at 20:45
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You should provide a separate sitemap.xml for search engines.

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