What Is the Purpose of Sitemaps?

site mapWhy Should You Use a Sitemap?

If you’re going to build a website and actually want it to be easy for people to find, you need to make sure the major search engines are aware of its existence. They don’t just need to know about the main page. They need to be aware of all of the pages on your site to index them properly. This increases the odds of targeted traffic finding your site, which will increase your conversion rate. With these points in mind, you’ll definitely want to add a sitemap to your site.

HTML Sitemaps

HTML sitemaps are actually visible to users. They may seem a little quaint these days, but they still come in handy. Most websites have search fields that can be used to track down specific information, but some people still like to use sitemaps to find what they need. HTML sitemaps may also be used by search engine robots. They work like any other HTML file. There aren’t any special tricks involved. If you’re going to create an HTML sitemap, though, make sure to include links to each page.

XML Sitemaps

If your site is relatively simple or you just don’t savor the idea of including a sitemap on it, you shouldn’t forego one altogether. Without adding a sitemap when you make a website, you won’t have any real control over how the search engine robots crawl it. A great alternative is an XML sitemap, which is only visible to search engine robots. This option has a few other prime advantages as well. You can use the changefreq tag to let search engines know how often a page is updated. The lastmod tag lets them know when a page was last modified. You can also use tags to denote the priority of each page on your site.

Creating Sitemaps

It’s easy to create both kinds of sitemaps for simple, small websites. If your site is large and complex, however, you’ll probably want to use an automated program. Just make sure to go over the resulting file carefully. Such programs are notorious for omitting certain pages or for having other errors. In the case of an HTML sitemap, there’s no need to include each and every page on your site. You’ll definitely want to do that with an XML sitemap, though, so you might even want to create one of each.

Note: Some website builders automatically generate an XML sitemap for the search engines to crawl. This sitemap is behind the scenes!

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