What is a sitemap & why are they important?
A sitemap is a file or list of webpages on a website that is accessible to both search engine crawlers and users to tell them about the organization of your website’s content OR as its name implies, it is a map of your website’s layout. When designing a website, it’s important to understand that you are creating it for two different audiences, one human and one google-man.
Sitemaps are essential to the success of a website because they not only allow a website to be found and indexed among the other billions of websites that are out there, but they also offer crucial information to search engines about changes that are made on your site and by providing a literal map to Google, you are likely to have those new changes indexed faster.
There are two types of sitemaps XML and HTML each differs in how they are created and their purpose.
What is the difference between XML & HTML sitemaps?
XML (External Markup Language)
An XML sitemap is designed for search engines consumption. Search engine spiders, aka crawlers, aka robots crawl a website and all of its links to ensure all of your important pages are found and represented.
Additional information gained from this type of sitemap is metadata which can include when the URL was last updated, how important it is, the average frequency at which changes occur and how the URL relates to the rest of the website.
HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language)
An HTML sitemap organizes your website through hyperlinks which are listed according to your website’s structure; this helps your content be found more easily by users. If a user is having trouble finding a particular page, they can easily navigate to the sitemap to find the direct link.
Should I use an XML Sitemap or an HTML Sitemap?
Drum rollllll….the answer is…Both! Having both an XML and HTML sitemap on your site will keep you feeling confident that you are covering all your bases. While the XML sitemap helps search engines find your site and may even help position it better in search engine results, HTML sitemaps improve the users experience by helping them find the information they are looking for. Both serve a different purpose in helping a website succeed.