Creating Sitemaps for Your Websites

Main points and benefits of sitemaps:

  • There exist many kinds of sitemap file formats, each optimized for a particular purpose.
  • Sitemaps can help your users navigate your website.
  • Sitemaps can help you get your important pages indexed faster and more often.
  • This article will explain the best usage of the most popular sitemap file types.

HTML sitemaps:

  • If you link to your HTML sitemap from all pages in your website, and your HTML sitemap contains links to all important sections and pages of your website, you can ensure link juice (a.k.a. Google PageRank or similar in other search engines) flow to all your pages helping them to be deemed important and get indexed by search engines.
  • A HTML sitemap structured in a sensible way can help users navigate your website. For this purpose, it may be a good idea to only include all the main sections/pages to avoid cluttering the sitemap needlessly.
  • Tip: Use a combination of different HTML sitemaps: Create a single-page HTML sitemap with links to all important sections, but at the bottom include a link to another (possibly multi-page) HTML sitemap with links to all website URLs.

XML sitemaps:

  • Google and other search engines created the “XML sitemaps protocol” for websites to offer an alternative way for search engines to find and index all your pages.
  • Tip:  If you in the XML sitemap make sure to only include non-duplicate URLs and assign appropriate URL importance priorities, you can increase the chance of  having your important URLs indexed faster.
  • Tip: The larger your website and the more complex your website navigation (e.g. Javascript and using forms/dropdowns etc.) the more useful having an XML sitemap becomes.

Image sitemaps:

  • Image sitemaps is a Google-only extension of XML sitemaps.
  • An easy way to tell Google about your images and how they associate to individual pages in your website.
  • If you have a website that is heavy on using images and pictures, you should include an image sitemap.

Video sitemaps:

  • Video sitemaps is a Google-only extension of XML sitemaps.
  • You can let Google know of all your video content and on which pages your videos are found.
  • If you have a website filled with video tutorials or similar, creating a video sitemap is almost a must.
  • Video search results are often blended into the standard Google search results.

News sitemaps:

  • News sitemaps is a Google-only extension of XML sitemaps.
  • If your website features major news on a regular basis, you should consider a news sitemap.
  • To be accepted by Google for news sitemaps, there are certain publisher requirements you will need to check and obey.
  • News search results are often blended into the normal Google search results.

For more information:

  • This sitemaps comparison article which has code examples and explanations of all sitemap file types.
  • The help pages found in the webmaster sections of various search engines.
  • The official XML sitemaps protocol page.

– Thomas Schulz, developer of the A1 Sitemap Generator tool