Sitemaps can take the form of both:
- HTML (what your users would see on your website) and
- XML a tree structured file intended for search engines.
An XML sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell search engines about the organisation of your site content. Search engine web crawlers read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.
An HTML sitemap serves a similar purpose but is designed to be used by visitors to the site rather than crawlers. The page is therefore linked to within the site’s navigation and in turn provides links to all the listed pages. Having an
XML and HTML sitemap helps the search engines to index all of the content present on the site and crawl your site more intelligently by, for example, notifying them when pages are added or removed.
Also, your XML sitemap can provide valuable metadata associated with the pages you list within it: Metadata is information about a webpage, such as:
- when the page was last updated,
- how often the page is changed, and the
- importance of the page relative to other URLs in the site.