SEO: Why you should care about Sitemaps
The types of sitemaps
I am going to keep the nerdy talk to a minimum and make all of this easy to understand for you. There are two sitemap types: HTML and XML. The HTML version is great for your visitors and the XML version is specifically for website crawlers like Googlebot. Can you guess which is better? BOTH. Now let’s read on why I recommend you have both on your website.
An XML sitemap is XML-encoded and this language is super delicious for web crawlers. If Googlebot visits your website and you happen to have an XML sitemap it looks at is as a lovely open feed invitation to index your website.
XML Sitemap CONS
Now like everything else I never said it was perfect! XML sitemaps do have cons like:
- They only suggest links to search engines for indexing and there are no guarantees as you can read here on this google article because of their complex algorithms. BUT if it’s not indexed it will most likely be considered and noted for another time. This is still a great improvement for SEO than to just rely on regular old links so don’t think it’s a waste of time!
- The links within an XML sitemap do not pass link authority like an HTML link could.
Like I said HTML sitemaps are still highly recommended. They are made specifically for your visitors to navigate and find what they need on your website NOT for search engine crawlers BUT they are still great to have for SEO. Think of them like a second structural menu of your website.
Tiny reasons why I still recommend HTML sitemaps:
- They are a great helper if your website has UX problems or in non-nerdy terms, accessibility problems. This allows users to have another place to search your website.
- If you see high traffic on this sitemap then it could be an indication of UX problems.
- It makes your website links more reachable to your visitors (something google loves).
- If you get lucky, a backlink to your HTML sitemap page can get google to crawl all your website links in one shot.
- Lastly, a site with more indexed content will do much better overall.
HTML sitemap CONS
- It’s not the most valuable of sitemaps for the crawlers. The rank factor is low BUT at the same time, they can still be indexed.
- HTML sitemaps don’t speak to search engine crawlers like XML sitemaps do.
Overall, I see a lot of use for both sitemap types and recommend you use both for better SEO and even better UX. They both offer search engine crawlers your content and each provides something different. I do see a lot of talk about HTML sitemaps not being very important but I do see some potential for both depending on the scenario. I hope this was helpful and I will leave you with links to websites that can help you with your sitemaps below.
Some great links to check out:
Victoria is founder of Creative Two and is fond of anything to do with online marketing. She is Inbound Marketing Certified and is here to write awesome articles that you can use to your own benefit for you business or non-profit.