HTML sitemap is a page listing the pages of your site - often by section - and is meant to help users find the information they need.
XML Sitemaps - usually called Sitemaps, with a capital S - are a way for you to give Google information about your site. This is the type of Sitemap we'll be discussing in this article.
In its simplest terms, a Sitemap is a list of the pages on your websites. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Search Engines (SE) knows about all the pages on your site, including URL's that may not be discoverable by SE's normal crawling process.
Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:
- Your site has dynamic content.
- Your site has pages that aren't easily discovered by Search Engines crawlers (like Googlebot) during the crawl process - for example, pages featuring rich AJAX or Flash.
- Your site is new and has few links to it. (SE crawls the web by following links from one page to another, so if your site isn't well linked, it may be hard for us to discover it.)
- Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or are not linked at all.
You can also use a Sitemap to provide SE with additional information about your pages, including:
- How often the pages on your site change. For example, you might update your product page daily, but update your Home page only once every few months.
- The date each page was last modified.
- The relative importance of pages on your site. For example, your home page might have a relative importance of 1.0, category pages have an importance of 0.8, and individual blog entries or product pages have an importance of 0.5. This priority only indicates the importance of a particular URL relative to other URLs on your site, and doesn't impact the ranking of your pages in search results.
Sitemaps provide additional information about your site to Search Engines, complementing our normal methods of crawling the web. We expect they will help us crawl more of your site and in a more timely fashion, but we can't guarantee that URLs from your Sitemap will be added to the Google index. Sites are never penalized for submitting Sitemaps.
Good site map practice.
- Make sitemap as simplest page on your web site. Do not give a fancy name to the site map link such as "Site Navigation Tree" - keep it as "Site map", this way your visitors understand immediately what you mean.
- Avoid "dynamic" site maps. Those in which the visitors have to "work" their way to get hold of information. Remember, the reason visitors comes to a site map page is because they are lost. To make them work again for something that you can display as a simple static link will just kill the purpose of having a site map.
- If the site map is list of
text links be sure to use the TITLE attribute of the anchor tag and include keywords inside it.
- It is a good idea to put a sentence describing the page contents below the link for that page on a site map.
- A site map should not be the primary navigation on your web site it should complement it.
- A link to the site map page is very important and all pages should carry this link. The site map link can be included with other links in the main menu on your web site or placed at a section on the web page
from which is it clearly visible.
- Other important aspects on a web site should complement site maps. For example, the link color for visited links should be different from that of non-visited links so that visitors understand which pages they have already seen and thus, save time.