Sitemaps – What are they and do I need one?

Most people understand what a sitemap is… it is a map of your website!  What most people don’t understand is that there are different types of sitemaps and different reasons for having them.There are two main reasons you may want to have a sitemap:

  • So your visitors can find their way around your site.
  • So search engines can find their way around your site.

Sitemaps for People

Generally, a sitemap intended for people is going to be in only one format: HTML.  This would be a basic web page that lists all the other pages on your website in a way that is easy for users to understand and find what they are looking for.  If your site is small and easy to navigate, you may not need a sitemap for people.  However, a lot of larger websites can be confusing and people might find a sitemap very helpful.

Sitemaps for Search Engines

Sitemaps for search engines can come in several different formats.  Generally, it is best to have a sitemap in XML format, but they could be just a simple text file or even an RSS feed.  Google gives some helpful pointers on how to setup a sitemap for search engines.

Having a sitemap for search engines helps to ensure that the search engines are aware of all the pages on your site.  While having a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that your entire site will be crawled or indexed, it is especially important if all of your pages are not interlinked well.  Search engines rely on links to find pages, and when those links don’t exist or are sparse, a sitemap is crucial.


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