What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a file that lists all the important pages on a website. It guides search engines in determining which pages to include in their index.
Having a sitemap is an important part of SEO. Sitemaps help Google discover your pages faster and more effectively.
There are two types of sitemaps:
XML sitemaps: sitemaps written in a specific format designed for search engine crawlers. They are machine readable files with information about a website’s pages like latest updates and importance. XML sitemaps were introduced in 2005 to provide a more efficient way of organizing website content.
HTML sitemaps: sitemaps that look like regular pages and help users navigate the website.
HTML sitemaps are manually created lists of links to all the pages on your website for visitors to navigate through. They were used in the early days of the internet to help users navigate your site.
Why Google prefers XML sitemaps?
HTML sitemaps have limitations as websites grow in size and complexity.
HTML sitemaps are difficult to maintain and update as website owners have to do them manually.
XML sitemaps, on the other hand, are automatically generated and submitted to search engines to help them crawl and index a site’s pages more efficiently.
Although HTML sitemaps aren’t that common anymore, some voices in the SEO community still say they’re a must. The fact is that HTML sitemaps can improve your internal linking and provide another layer of navigation for complex websites with many pages. However, do not use an HTML sitemap as a replacement for good site navigation elements (such as menus, footer links, breadcrumbs, categories, etc.).
Do You Need A Sitemap?
You need a sitemap if:
- You have a sizable website. It is more challenging to link every page from at least one other page on huge websites. Googlebots may need help to index your pages.
- Your website is brand-new and just has a few links. Web crawlers like Googlebot and others crawl sites through links. Unlinked pages could get skipped.
- Your website is featured in Google News or has a significant amount of rich media material (video, photos). Sitemaps provide Google with additional data that can be used in search.
Google says sitemaps are suitable for large websites, websites with extensive archives, or new websites with few links. However, every website can benefit from having an XML sitemap. There are really no downsides to having one.
If you need help with your sitemap, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at email@example.com