A sitemap guides your website visitors to where they want to go. It’s where they turn if they haven’t found what they are looking from those dropdown menus.
Beyond helping your visitors navigate your website, which should be the primary focus of any marketing effort, there are many other reasons to use a sitemap.
First, it’s important to understand that there are two types of sitemaps:
- XML sitemaps
- HTML sitemaps
What Are XML Sitemaps?
XML sitemaps help search engines and spiders discover the pages on your website.
These sitemaps give search engines a website’s URLs and offer data a complete map of all pages on a site. This helps search engines prioritize pages that they will crawl.
There is information within the sitemap that shows page change frequency on one URL versus others on that website, but it is unlikely that this has any effect on rankings.
An XML sitemap is very useful for large websites that might otherwise take a long time for a spider to crawl through the site.
Every site has a specific amount of crawl budget allocated to their site, so no search engine will simply crawl every URL the first time it encounters it.
An XML sitemap is a good way for a search engine to build its queue of the pages it wants to serve.
What Are HTML Sitemaps?
HTML sitemaps ostensibly serve website visitors. The sitemaps include every page on the website – from the main pages to lower-level pages.
An HTML sitemap is just a clickable list of pages on a website. In its rawest form, it can be an unordered list of every page on a site – but don’t do that.
This is a great opportunity to create some order out of chaos, so it’s worth making the effort.
Why You Should Leverage HTML Sitemaps
While you may already use an XML sitemap – and some insist that an HTML sitemap is no longer necessary – here are seven reasons to add (or keep) an HTML sitemap.
1. Organize Large Websites
Your website will grow in size.
You may add an ecommerce store with several departments or you may expand your product portfolio. Or, more likely, the site just grow as new people are added to a company.
However, this can lead to confusion for visitors who are then confused about where to go or what you have to offer.
The HTML sitemap works in a similar way to a department store or shopping mall map.
The sitemap is a great way for the person maintaining the sitemap to take stock of every page and make sure it has its rightful home somewhere in the site.
This is the directory for users that can’t find the pages they are looking for elsewhere on the site and, as a last resort, this should help them get there. – Read more