A sitemap is to a website as a table of contents is to a book.
The main purpose of a sitemap is to let the search engine crawlers easily know about all of a website’s pages. Some pages are often missed by search engine crawlers because they are located quite deeply within a website’s architecture, or because they are not linked from the website’s main navigation. As such, these pages are not found and cached in the SERPs (search engine results pages), so they will not appear when a user enters a relevant search query.
There are 3 major types of sitemaps:
- Made in HTML.
- Found at the bottom of the page in the footer section.
- Acts as a secondary navigation for users to reach important web pages within a website.
- Notifies the search engine crawlers that these pages are of high relevance.
2. Sitemap Link
- Also made in HTML.
- Appears as a link to the sitemap page.
- The sitemap page itself shows a list of links to all pages within the website.
3. XML Sitemap
- Made in XML.
- Is not visually represented on the website, so users never see it.
- Exists purely for the search engines crawlers.
- Lists every single page/URL of a site.
It is important to keep the XML Sitemap for the search engines up to date. This way the crawlers will be alerted to any new pages created, and there is a much better chance of these pages being crawled and cached accordingly.