A sitemap is a list of pages contained in a website that is available for the user and search engines to navigate a site and find the content they are looking for. Visual sitemaps come in all shapes and sizes but in terms of web code there are only two types: XML and HTML. What is the difference between HTML sitemap and XML sitemap?
- HTML sitemaps are displayed with the user in mind and with the same structure: they are usually linear, or top-down showing the content hierarchy of the site, they provide the user with an easily readable table of contents, thus showing them how to get to their page destination.
- XML sitemaps do pretty much the same thing as a HTML but they are in a different type of web code and document. They are also a visible list but provide URLs to the web crawlers that give additional data about the pages metatags. They show data on whether there have been changes to the page and how often it changes compared to other URLs on that site. This additional data is important for the crawlers as the more links to data the crawler can find, the more optimised the page.
Most websites have a HTML sitemap, but not all. Small websites with only a few pages or a short blog/portfolio may not need a navigational map because a user can get around easily through the site homepage. If your site has many links on page, that might confuse your customer, then it is important to create a sitemap. Examples of HTML sitemaps can be found in any large website were there are many pages and links. XML sitemaps are created by webmasters specifically for web crawlers to search through the site. They are important to Search Engine Optimisation, for large sites with lots of links they provide a proper framework for the spiders to crawl through allowing them to index. Like HTML sitemaps, not all websites need an XML sitemap. If your website is displayed carefully and has an efficient structure: a flat hierarchy of pages, a clear navigation and working permalinks, Google should have no problems crawling and indexing all your pages correctly.