HTML and XML Sitemaps: Why You Need Both

A well designed map can help lead the way


In the SEO world, the use of sitemaps is always advisable. There are two types of  sitemaps, the XML sitemap and the HTML sitemap. These sitemaps are very different with each serving its own purpose and both providing value to your website.

What is the difference between XML and HTML sitemaps?

XML and HTML sitemaps are created for different purposes, but both can help increase traffic to your website and improve its usability.

 The XML sitemap

XML sitemaps are used by search engine spiders, also known as robots, bots or crawlers. Spiders “crawl”, or follow links throughout the Internet, finding content and adding it to search engine indexes.

An XML sitemap is a file containing all of the URLs on the website that you would like to be indexed in search engines. The XML sitemap also provides spiders with the following information:

  • Metadata for URLs
  • When the URLs were last updated
  • The importance of certain URLs
  • Average frequency of changes to URLs
  • URL relation to the rest of your website

Having an XML sitemap is crucial for the proper display of your site’s pages in search engines.

 The HTML sitemap

In simple terms, the HTML sitemap gives users an overview of your website. This can be helpful if you have pages that might be difficult to find. For example, if a user visits your homepage and is looking for a “contact us” page but can’t find the link for the page easily, the user may click on the “sitemap” page. There, the contact page may be accessed a simple click on a link.

An HTML sitemap helps users navigate your website and get to the pages or information they are seeking quickly.

The benefits of using both sitemaps

Having your XML sitemap functioning properly ensures that search engines are finding your site’s information and correctly listing it in search results. This may also often lead to better search engine positioning and send more visitors to your site.

Having a well thought out HTML sitemap improves your visitors’ experience and helps them find the pages or information they want quickly.

By using both sitemaps in combination, you are helping your SEO while increasing the likelihood of visitor retention and return visits to your site.

Upcoming Search Marketing Workshops

Blizzard’s upcoming workshops that can help you market your website more effectively.

It would be great if you can attend any or all of these… if you cannot, order a video copy instead.  We are selling a package of ALL 3 workshop for $499 and will record each workshop and deliver it to you via streaming video after the event. You can watch it at your leisure.

At VRMA 2012 Nationals in Phoenix (October 21st) we are hosting a 4-hour workshop that is All About Google Analytics.  Learn how to use Google Analytics more effectively.  I hope to see you there!

Are you looking for a more intensive learning experience?  We are offering both a beginners and an advanced workshop in the next few months:

All About Google 2-day workshop will be in Glenwood Springs on November 12 and 13th. This is a great opportunity to sharpen up your SEO skills and understanding of the many opportunities Google offers your website.

Advanced Search Marketing Workshop is a 2-day workshop intensively focused on enhancing the performance of your website marketing efforts.  January 21-22 in Glenwood Springs, CO.

Integrate Your Google Webmaster Tool Data into Google Analytics

Connecting your Google Webmaster Tool account and your Google Analytics account provides better reports in your Google Analytics AND more convenience.  This feature was released last week on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.

I especially like having the “Queries” report right in Google Analytics which shows how many impressions my website received in Google search results (by Query), the Click-Thru-Rate and the average ranking. Pretty Handy.

Here are the step-by-step instructions… with a caveat: you must be in the “new version” of Google Analytics, not the old.  If your screens look different, you are in the old version.  The login to the new version is at the very top of your page.

Here are the step-by-step instructions to integrate these two accounts:

1) Login to Google Analytics and click on the gear to the right of the reporting tabs:

[Read more…]

TripAdvisor and Google Places Changes Good News for Lodging Businesses

Back in November we reported that the change in Google Search Results is GREAT news for lodging businesses because it emphasizes the business’s website over the giant lodging directory.

This good news would be bad news for those giant directories like or TripAdvisor.

As a followup, in December, TripAdvisor acknowledged that its traffic from Google dropped by more than 10% since Google made the changes to its search results that emphasized the Google Places content.  Curiously, this came on the heels of an October claim that “TripAdvisor benefits from Google’s new Place Search feature” which clearly proved to be mistaken.

We think the individual lodging websites are the ones that took that 10% back from TripAdvisor.

Meanwhile, TripAdvisor had pulled its reviews from Google Places.  It used to be that TripAdvisor dominated the reviews at Google Places… now websites like, Yelp,, Travelpost, etc. are more important for reviews.

This is probably pretty good news for most hotels and lodging operations for two reasons:

  1. Many hotels had problems with TripAdvisor reviews and rankings and TripAdvisor DOMINATES the spots.  By removing TripAdvisor reviews from Google Places, hotel operators have a bit of a clean slate.
  2. Many hotels have been gaming TripAdvisor, but ignoring the multitude of other review spots.  Now those other review locations will have a little more importance.

If you currently dominate TripAdvisor in your market… this is all BAD news!

Change in Google Search Results is GREAT News for Lodging Businesses

Google rolled out changes in its search results about two weeks ago that are proving to be great news for many hotels, inns and vacation rental management companies.  This change represents a pretty dramatic shift in the look and feel of Google’s SERPs for many local searches.

Previously, when a consumer did a location search (like “Orlando Vacation Home”) Google would show the “10-box” at the top of the organic search results and then show the top 10 results after that.

It looked like this:

Now, Google is blending the two and placing the Google Places information right into the organic search results so that it looks like this:

Why is this a benefit? There are three reasons:

1) Because wholesalers and distributors (competitors who don’t have physical presence in your market) are not eligible for a Google Places listing and their resulting listings are not nearly as attractive or prominent as those businesses that do have a Places listing.  They get a pretty boring listing that looks like this:

2) Because many of your competitors have not taken the time to get a nice Google Places listing, and theirs may look like this: [Read more…]


Use of the microsite as an SEO tactic has been a persistent topic of online marketing strategy for years.   Generally, its popularity and effectiveness has waned.

Your average hospitality business is more likely to be saddled with a tenured set of microsites than seriously considering a new microsite effort.  Remember, back in the days, building microsites was typically a profitable endeavor.  They performed well in search engines and enjoyed high conversion rates if thoughtfully designed… which was probably rare.  That is why there are so many legacy microsites.

Over the last few years Google started discouraging the practice in both its words and its algorithms. And for good reason: using microsites to manipulate organic search isn’t good for the consumer.  For the business owner, microsites are a double-edged sword.  They involve risk.  BTW, we say microsites instead of microsite usually because people seem to build them in groups.  It is a herd animal.

Today, the reasons most hotels or resorts use microsites are threefold:

  1. A needed technology, tool or content management system cannot be installed within a website, so it is hosted at a subdomain.  Examples include booking engines, tee-time or table reservation functionality, guest/customer loyalty area, blog, etc.  This is a good reason to have a microsite.
  2. The resort has a unique product (restaurant, spa, golf course) that justifies having its own dedicated web presence and marketing effort.  This may also be a good reason for a microsite.
  3. They have a few old clunky microsites and won’t give them up!

It is that third reason we want to discuss today.  Give them up now, before Google pries them from your cold dead hands! [Read more…]

What is the Deal with Google Instant?

Google Instant is the latest enhancement that shows results as you type in your search.

This is going to make Google a much faster experience, it’s probably been timed and designed to make a search at Bing-Ahoo seem slow and clunky in comparison – effectively stealing back some share from the combined 28.1% search share they had in July 2010.

Google was at 65.8% in July 2010.

[Read more…]