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.