Sitemap: Nest galleries under topic or under main gallery page?

Should a gallery page (one of several galleries in the website) be nested under a page about the specific gallery topic or under a main gallery page?


A client recently posed this question, related to their sitemap which had pages dedicated to several treatment services and photo galleries related to each treatment:

There will be multiple galleries (1 for most treatments), there should be a main Photo Gallery page that links into the other galleries. I think each treatment gallery should be on a separate page from the treatment page itself.  With that said would best way to create the nesting of the pages be:

  • Treatment Pages
    • Treatment A service page
      • Photo Gallery for Treatment A
  • Photo Gallery Main (with links to the gallery pages)

– OR –

  • Photo Gallery Main
    • Photo Gallery for Treatment A
  • Treatment Pages
    • Treatment A service page

I think this is a great question and one which has relevance for many different cases. So here is the answer:

It can go either way, depending on what and navigation strategy you want to promote. The way to think about it generally goes like this: If the user is on the Photo Gallery for Treatment A page, are they more likely to want to go (or do YOU want to have them to go) to the  main Treatment A page or to the main Gallery page?

Generally the former is better. The individual treatment gallery page has conceptual/semantic ties that are stronger to the Treatment A page that to the gallery page. When someone is looking at a Treatment A image, they are likely more interested in knowing more about Treatment A, rather than look as images in general, such as images for other treatments.

There is another important reason why it is better to nest gallery pages to some richer text parent pages rather than having them nested to a main gallery parent page. Google can’t extract as much information from an image – basically only text that is in the image title, description, alt tag, etc. Subordinating the image page to the word rich treatment page, will trickle more keyword juice to those images than if the parent of the page is just the main gallery page, which is likely to lack text content or specificity.

Since I see utility for user to also want to look at pics and navigate through several galleries, it is useful to have a main gallery page linking to each treatment gallery, as well as have the reverse; a link from the treatment gallery page to the main gallery page. But these links are secondary.

The primary, most important navigation or logic structure should drive where the actual pages reside and specific parent/child relationships. So even though you can have any page link to any other page, when creating a sitemap one should create the nested structure that identifies the unique location of the page in the hierarchy. The sitemap is at the basis of how the website pages will be nested into directories, with each page at one unique location.