A sitemap contains a list of pages within a website. A sitemap can exist in a form accessible to crawlers, humans, or both. Typically, a sitemap is hierarchical in nature. The purpose of a sitemap is to display, how the website is organized apart from navigation and labeling. It provides clarity about the relationship between various website pages and components. Certain types of sitemaps, such as XML sitemaps, provide additional information about the pages in a website, such as the last update and frequency of updating.
However, broken links can stall the discovery of some pages. A website may contain a lot of pages, a large amount of isolated archived content, or recently launched pages that need to be crawled, or there may be external links that point to it. Also, a website may have rich intuitive content such as media files that need to be crawled. If search engines are not deep-crawling a website, those pages do not populate at the top of the SERPs. There is no guarantee that all the items in a sitemap will receive enhanced exposure or be crawled, but providing sitemaps is a good practice because it definitely makes it easier for the search engines.
Types of Sitemap
There are two types of sitemaps:
- XML sitemap
- HTML sitemap
An XML sitemap is in an XML format that is tailored for the search engines. It is used to indicate information about various pages. However, it is not user-friendly, because it caters to search engines and not human users. An XML sitemap sheds light on information such as the relationships between pages, their update history, and the frequency with which they are updated.
Making the Choice
It is a good practice to use both XML and HTML sitemaps for your website. XML sitemaps provide the search engines with information related to all the pages on a website. They also include pages that are not directly connected to the home page, such as posts. HTML sitemaps, on the other hand, contain a list of pages along with their links. This enables users to visit specific pages on your website, eliminating the hassle of navigating through all the pages. In addition, such a list helps track which pages are being visited the most by users.
Popular Sitemap Generators
Generating a sitemap for a small website is usually not time consuming. However, this can be a very time-consuming activity for large, complex websites. Performing manual sitemap generation on such websites is not only expensive with respect to time, but also prone to errors. In such situations, sitemap generators come in handy. A sitemap generator is a tool that takes the URL of the website as input. It then scans the website and lists all the pages it contains in XML or HTML format. This section looks at some of the widely used sitemap generators.
Write Maps is an efficient utility for online sitemap generation. You can create three sitemaps for free using a single account. Its intuitive character helps you create sitemaps as well as customize colors, map page content, and easily format content. The generated sitemaps can be exported in PDF as well as XML formats.
The different kinds of sitemaps, and some online tools that can assist you in creating interactive, intuitive sitemaps. The next chapter looks at keyword strategies and several factors that are imperative for SEO success.