A sitemap is a fundamental part of a website homepage SEO. It is a list of web pages of a website that contains URLs found on a website. These URLs are available to the search engines to navigate through a website and the users to locate the content they searched. The sitemaps are created and submitted to the Google webmasters tool so that Google can crawl the sitemaps. Without sitemaps, the search engines might not show all the web pages as some pages are not discovered by them during their crawling process.
Sitemaps improve the crawling of your website, and Google claims that you need a sitemap when:
Having a sitemap to your website, you will benefit with SEO (search engine optimization) and never be penalized by Google.
XML means Extensible Markup Language whereas HTML is Hyper Text Markup Language. The two markup languages have different uses, value, and service for different purposes on a website to an online user and the search engines.
Created for purpose
HTML sitemaps are created for the online user to view the web pages or online content and navigate the website easily. These Sitemaps organize several pages and sections of your website via hyperlinks. The hyperlinks provide the information of a particular web page to the user when they click on the links. The pages and sections of a website are listed in a specific hierarchy and placed on the homepage of a website.
XML sitemaps are created mainly for search engines and are submitted to the webmaster's tool for crawling the website. It organizes several sections of a web page via all the URLs on a website to be indexed by the search engines. The XML sitemaps must be placed in the website’s root directory that can be accessed by the search engine spiders also called robots, bots or crawlers. Search engines crawl or follow links over the Internet, to get the content and add it to search engine for indexing.
The sitemap carries information about each web page, that is created and last modified date, with relevant pages. This speeds up the process of indexing pages by search engines. There are two types of Sitemaps used such as XML sitemap and HTML sitemap. Each sitemap has its uses and features when it comes to SEO and should be employed according to the purpose of a website to get better results.
Both HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps are needed to improve your website’s exposure. The search engine rankings increase after submitting a sitemap to your website for the first time. While sitemaps alone will not drive traffic and conversions, you need navigational links and good content for SEO visibility. Understanding the creation process and value, each type of sitemap will help you prioritize limited resources.