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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 perhaps multiple reply.

Immediately, we’ll take a deep dive into the sitemap world, to be able to stroll away with the required solutions and confidence across the matter!

What Is A Sitemap?

Let’s begin right here.

Defining a sitemap is crucial for a number of causes, and we’re going to undergo the 2 primary varieties that apply to technical website positioning: XML and HTML sitemaps.

XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a file that gives a web site’s important pages, movies, and different vital recordsdata for Google to find when crawling the positioning.

Not solely are these listed within the file, however the sitemap may present particulars for Google to know – as an illustration, when the web page was final up to date, and if the content material is offered in different languages.

As I discussed, it’s also possible to present particulars about content material varieties like movies, images, and news-related content material, particularly in your XML sitemap.

Based on the Google Builders Sitemaps part, the next could be included for particular sorts of content material in your sitemap:

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

Subsequent, we’ll discuss 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.

It is 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 objective, it will possibly assist with indexation.

You may 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 vital pages in your web site’s navigation.

XML Sitemaps Vs. HTML Sitemaps

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


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


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

Do You Want A Sitemap?

In case you are questioning in case you want a sitemap, that relies upon!

First, let’s focus on the XML sitemap. There are a couple of questions you may ask to find out in case you want an XML sitemap:

  • How massive is your web site? Is it giant 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 needs to be sure.
  • Is your web site content material heavy? Do you will have many images, movies, information content material, and so on.?
  • Does your web site want a greater structure that leads to pages not being nicely linked to one another? This can be the case with archived and orphan pages you wish to be listed.

In the event you answered sure to any of the questions above, then sure, it’s best follow to have an XML sitemap.

Even in case you answered no to the entire above, I’d suggest 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 shall be useful!

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

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

The XML sitemap has the knowledge wanted for Google to crawl, index, and study different vital 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 may enable Google to grasp your web site’s structure and relationships higher.

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

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

Additionally it is not a cure-all for a poorly architected and nested web site. Whereas it isn’t a vital factor of success, it has proven advantages that make having one a finest follow.

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

Now you might be questioning create these two property and what to do with them – so, let’s leap into some methods you may create these recordsdata and the place to place them on the positioning.

How To Create An XML Sitemap

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

XML sitemaps have particular standards as a way to be rendered legitimate.

Sitemap of lowes.comScreenshot 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 might be utilizing throughout the <urlset> tag.
  • Every URL entry will need to have a <url> tag as a mum or dad XML tag.
  • Embody a <loc> little one entry for every <url> mum or dad tag.
  • Every sitemap can solely comprise as much as 50,000 URLs and 50MB.
  • Have to be UTF-encoded.

XML Sitemap Finest Practices

Now, let’s take a look at some key finest practices with regards 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 if in case you have two variations (cell and desktop) of your web site.
  • Embody media property like movies, images, and information objects.
  • Use hreflang to point out 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. In the event you can’t maintain this correct, don’t use it.
  • Google ignores the <precedence> and <changefreq> tags at the moment, in accordance with John Mueller on this Search Off the Document podcast.
  • Google won’t crawl your URLs within the order they’re listed, nor does it assure indexation.
  • Your sitemap needs to be up to date usually – robotically, or manually – or Google could not belief it.

Now, in case 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.

Take a look at the refined model under:

refined sitemap of lowes.comScreenshot from, January 2023

How To Create An HTML Sitemap

When placing collectively an HTML sitemap, bear in mind its objective is to serve a person on the positioning 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!

You’ll want 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 Finest Practices

Let’s go over a couple of fast finest practices with regards to HTML sitemaps:

  • Organize the web page’s construction to align along with your web site’s construction. You’ll want to make it possible for the hierarchy is definitely understood.
  • The HTML sitemap needs to be situated someplace the person can simply discover it. You’ll typically see it within the footer hyperlinks of a web site.
  • Use anchor textual content that’s precious to the person.

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

Sitemap Generator Instruments

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

Relying on which CMS you might be leveraging, there are additionally hundreds of XML sitemap generator plug-ins, however be cautious as even the perfect generator instruments have their limitations, so be certain to double-check the output.

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

HTML Sitemap Generator Instruments

  • com: it is a free on-line device the place you may 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, if in case you have a big web site and are already utilizing a crawler like OnCrawl, DeepCrawl, Screaming Frog, or SiteBulb, you may leverage the output from a crawl to assist generate your HTML sitemap.

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

In Conclusion

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

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

When you’re figuring out your subsequent steps for making a sitemap in your web site – whether or not XML or HTML – I hope you may leverage this information to resolve which path makes essentially the most sense in your web site’s wants.

Extra assets: 

Featured Picture: Sammby/Shutterstock



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