What Is A Sitemap? Do I Want One?

Sitemap. Whereas it is a time period you might be acquainted with, what does it imply?

Do you want one? The place do you discover one? How do you make one?

These are legitimate questions; for some, there is likely to be multiple reply.

Right now, we are going to take a deep dive into the sitemap world, so as to stroll away with the required solutions and confidence across the subject!

What Is A Sitemap?

Let’s begin right here.

Defining a sitemap is important for a number of causes, and we’re going to undergo the 2 fundamental varieties that apply to technical search engine optimisation: XML and HTML sitemaps.

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a file that gives an internet site’s important pages, movies, and different necessary information for Google to find when crawling the location.

Not solely are these listed within the file, however the sitemap also can present particulars for Google to know – for example, when the web page was final up to date, and if the content material is out there in different languages.

As I discussed, you can too present particulars about content material varieties like movies, pictures, and news-related content material, particularly in your XML sitemap.

In keeping with the Google Builders Sitemaps part, the next will be included for particular kinds of content material in your sitemap:

  • A sitemap video entry can specify the video working time, score, and age-appropriateness score.
  • A sitemap picture entry can embrace the placement of the photographs included on a web page.
  • A sitemap information entry can embrace the article title and publication date.

Subsequent, we are going to speak about what an HTML sitemap is and the variations between the 2.

HTML Sitemap

An HTML sitemap is extra focused for customers in your web site than for Google.

This can be a web page that exists in your web site and has hyperlinks to the pages in your web site – and in some instances, features a little context into what these pages are.

Google mentions that it’s best to attempt to set up a constant and clear hierarchy on the HTML sitemap as, though not its function, it may possibly assist with indexation.

You possibly can consider an HTML sitemap as a listing that customers can leverage to navigate your web site and discover what they want.

An HTML sitemap shouldn’t be an try to exchange the necessary pages in your web site’s navigation.

XML Sitemaps Vs. HTML Sitemaps

So, what are the important thing variations between these two kinds of sitemaps? Let’s evaluate.


  • The intent is for Google and different bots.
  • There isn’t any hierarchy.
  • Used primarily for indexing.
  • You possibly can submit through Google Webmaster Instruments.


  • The intent is for customers.
  • A hierarchy ought to be used.
  • No place to submit in Google Webmaster Instruments.

Do You Want A Sitemap?

If you’re questioning in the event you want a sitemap, that relies upon!

First, let’s talk about the XML sitemap. There are a couple of questions you’ll be able to ask to find out in the event you want an XML sitemap:

  • How large is your web site? Is it massive sufficient that Google could miss newly up to date content material when it’s crawling?
  • Is your web site comparatively new? If that’s the case, it could not have a ton of exterior hyperlinks on the Web that time to it to assist Google uncover it. Even when your web site isn’t new, and also you don’t have exterior hyperlinks, your reply to this query ought to be sure.
  • Is your web site content material heavy? Do you’ve got many pictures, movies, information content material, and many others.?
  • Does your web site want a greater structure that leads to pages not being effectively linked to one another? This can be the case with archived and orphan pages you wish to be listed.

If you happen to answered sure to any of the questions above, then sure, it’s best apply to have an XML sitemap.

Even in the event you answered no to the entire above, I might advocate an XML sitemap for a couple of causes; In case your web site grows, expands its scope, and different conditions could come up, having a sitemap will likely be helpful!

Subsequent, let’s evaluate whether or not it is smart so that you can have an HTML sitemap.  Relying on the place you look, you’ll discover that reply to be sure or no.

HTML sitemaps are identified to be an older idea, however that doesn’t imply you shouldn’t have one.

The XML sitemap has the data wanted for Google to crawl, index, and be taught different necessary details about these pages. Nonetheless, an XML sitemap doesn’t present hierarchy like an HTML sitemap.

Google will crawl the hyperlinks in your web site, and together with an HTML sitemap might permit Google to grasp your web site’s structure and relationships higher.

That is much more helpful for websites which have an extremely massive variety of pages.

So, is having an HTML sitemap crucial? No, it isn’t.

Additionally it is not a cure-all for a poorly architected and nested web site. Whereas it isn’t a crucial aspect of success, it has proven advantages that make having one a greatest apply.

To shut this subject out, I like to recommend you’ve got an XML and HTML sitemap as a result of let’s be trustworthy, why not, when the professionals outweigh the cons very clearly?

Now you might be questioning learn how to create these two property and what to do with them – so, let’s soar into some methods you’ll be able to create these information and the place to place them on the location.

How To Create An XML Sitemap

First, we are going to go over how one can generate sitemaps from scratch, after which we are going to get into some nice instruments that may do it for you.

XML sitemaps have particular standards with the intention to be rendered legitimate.

Screenshot from, January 2023

Beneath are a couple of particular necessities for XML sitemaps:

  • Start with a <urlset> tag and finish with that tag closing </urlset>.
  • Embody the protocol you’re utilizing inside the <urlset> tag.
  • Every URL entry should have a <url> tag as a father or mother XML tag.
  • Embody a <loc> youngster entry for every <url> father or mother tag.
  • Every sitemap can solely include as much as 50,000 URLs and 50MB.
  • Have to be UTF-encoded.

XML Sitemap Greatest Practices

Now, let’s take a look at some key greatest practices relating to creating XML sitemaps:

  • Solely URLs you wish to be listed ought to seem in your sitemap. This implies no redirected URLs, non-canonical URLs, or pages marked as no-index.
  • Don’t use session Ids.
  • Solely embrace the first you probably have two variations (cellular and desktop) of your web site.
  • Embody media property like movies, pictures, and information objects.
  • Use hreflang to indicate Google that there are different language variations of your web site.
  • Google documentation notes it leverages <lastmod>, however provided that it’s constant and verifiable. If you happen to can’t maintain this correct, don’t use it.
  • Google ignores the <precedence> and <changefreq> tags at the moment, in keeping with John Mueller on this Search Off the Report podcast.
  • Google is not going to crawl your URLs within the order they’re listed, nor does it assure indexation.
  • Your sitemap ought to be up to date commonly – robotically, or manually – or Google could not belief it.

Now, in the event you felt misplaced studying these starting necessities, that’s okay, as a result of there are instruments that will help you obtain your required outcomes! We are going to go over some later on this article.

Try the refined model beneath:

refined sitemap of lowes.comScreenshot from, January 2023

How To Create An HTML Sitemap

When placing collectively an HTML sitemap, bear in mind its function is to serve a person on the location and assist Google perceive the hierarchy of your web site.

You don’t want to no index this web page from Google; maintain it crawlable!

It would be best to make sure you don’t simply throw hundreds of hyperlinks on an HTML sitemap web page with no sense of group, as this gained’t assist anybody – bots included.

Home Depot sitemapScreenshot from Dwelling Depot, January 2023

HTML Sitemap Greatest Practices

Let’s go over a couple of fast greatest practices relating to HTML sitemaps:

  • Organize the web page’s construction to align along with your web site’s construction. It would be best to ensure that the hierarchy is definitely understood.
  • The HTML sitemap ought to be situated someplace the person can simply discover it. You’ll usually see it within the footer hyperlinks of an internet site.
  • Use anchor textual content that’s invaluable to the person.

Want a bit assist getting began? No worries – there are many instruments that will help you.

Sitemap Generator Instruments

There are a selection of instruments that will help you generate various kinds of sitemaps. Let’s go over a couple of now.

XML Sitemap Generator Instruments

  • Screaming Frog – This device is a superb choice for producing a sitemap, particularly if you wish to generate one after crawling your URLs. Screaming Frog is free you probably have beneath 1,000 URLs, however you would need to purchase a license you probably have extra.
  • – This web-based utility lets you enter your web site URL and it generates an XML file for you. This can be a free device for as much as 500 URLs.

Relying on which CMS you’re leveraging, there are additionally hundreds of XML sitemap generator plug-ins, however be cautious as even the very best generator instruments have their limitations, so be sure that to double-check the output.

Listed here are a couple of in style XML sitemap plugins for WordPress:

HTML Sitemap Generator Instruments

  • com: it is a free on-line device the place you’ll be able to scan your web site URL or add a doc to generate an HTML sitemap. As we mentioned earlier, there could also be higher approaches than a generator in case your web site is poorly architected.
  • Crawler: Like Eli mentions, you probably have a big web site and are already utilizing a crawler like OnCrawl, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, or SiteBulb, you’ll be able to leverage the output from a crawl to assist generate your HTML sitemap.

Like XML sitemaps, there are additionally quite a lot of CMS plugins for creating HTML sitemaps. Listed here are a couple of for WordPress:

In Conclusion

Sitemaps have existed within the search engine optimisation world for a while as a technique for serving to search engines like google uncover and crawl web sites.

And, whereas having a sitemap isn’t all the time obligatory for each web site, it definitely doesn’t damage – and will be particularly helpful for each new and huge websites.

When you find yourself figuring out your subsequent steps for making a sitemap to your web site – whether or not XML or HTML – I hope you’ll be able to leverage this information to determine which path makes probably the most sense to your web site’s wants.

Extra sources: 

Featured Picture: Sammby/Shutterstock

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