Sitemaps Help Users and Search Engines Find Your Website Treasures

Sitemaps are powerful tools for web administration whether you run a blog, an e-commerce outlet, a news platform or any other kind of website whatsoever. A sitemap is a collection of links showing the structure of a website, making it easier to find resources within a given web domain. HTML and XML are the two main formats for sitemaps, and they each confer specific advantages in different circumstances.

You can have the best content on the web written by the best content writers, but if Google and your visitors can’t find it, your efforts could be for naught. Here’s a quick guide to setting up effective sitemaps.

HTML Sitemaps Are for People

An HTML sitemap is simply a normal web page that points to the location of resources on your website and allows viewers to easily click to them. There’s no standardized format for HTML sitemaps because they’re intended for use primarily by humans.

If your site is large, there’s no need to include every page in your sitemap. For instance, a retailer would probably not link to every single product in inventory. Similarly, a popular blog would almost never feature every one of its posts on its sitemap. Instead, sizable sites typically list category pages, topic pages or pages for each month of the calendar. From these destinations, users can drill down to the specific content they’re looking for. Check out Apple and Mashable for a couple of outstanding examples.

HTML sitemaps were once common, but they’re now absent from many major sites. Webmasters now try make all their content easy to reach through normal navigational links, so the importance of presenting a sitemap to users has decreased. Still, sitemaps serve as a method of last resort for showcasing your resources to visitors who may be having trouble finding them.


XML Sitemaps are for Web Crawlers

Sitemaps using the XML protocol are meant to serve web crawling software deployed by search engines. These “spiders” from Google, Bing, and other search companies are constantly scurrying across the internet and following the links they encounter so that they can properly index the billions of websites out there. With a comprehensive XML sitemap, you’ll make it easier for these crawlers to access all your web pages.

Google states that an XML sitemap may enhance the crawling of your pages by its bots particularly if your site is extensive or your internal link structure is spotty. While the search giant doesn’t guarantee any benefit, it does declare that you’ll definitely not be penalized for having a compatible sitemap.


Using Sitemaps

If you have WordPress installed, you can add an XML sitemap with the renowned Yoast SEO plugin and obtain an HTML version with the additional WP SEO HTML Sitemap plugin. Joomla! fans can try out Aimy Sitemap, which has a free, downloadable version as well as a more sophisticated paid option. There are high-quality sitemap generators for almost every other widely used content management platform.

You may wish to make your HTML sitemap yourself because it will be actually read by humans, but the XML sitemaps generated by automatic tools should be fine without any manual editing. Place your XML sitemap in your root directory. So if your domain is, you can put your sitemap at

Then log into Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, and enter the location of your XML sitemap so that these search firms will know where to look. These two services allow you to manage your sitemaps, view data related to how your site appears in search results, issue instructions on how your web pages should be crawled and more.

Create an HTML sitemap to assist your website visitors, and deploy an XML one to increase your site’s exposure to search bots. You can produce both of these files completely free of charge, so there’s nothing to lose and quite a bit to gain. As National Geographic writer Mark Jenkins opined, “Maps are essential. Planning a journey without a map is like building a house without drawings.”


Article by

Grant Maddox enjoys writing product descriptions, reviews, articles, and blog posts. He is especially conversant in poker and other gambling games and can contribute successfully to strategy articles and news items regarding such games. Grant can write compelling content while observing the rules of English grammar.

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