what is a sitemap and why is it important

What Is a Sitemap and Why Is It Important for SEO?

While sitemaps have existed for quite some time, their continued importance for SEO is an open subject today.

Any search engine optimization expert will tell you you must have a sitemap on your website. Have you ever wondered why a sitemap is critical to search engine optimization? 

Sitemaps help search engines find and crawl your site’s most significant pages by providing a list of those pages. Sitemaps not only simplify site navigation but also help visitors get a better grasp of your site’s structure.

You want Google or another search engine to examine all of your website’s content. On the other hand, it’s always possible that certain pages will become orphaned, meaning they won’t have any referring pages within the wiki. If you do this, no one who visits your website will be able to see those particular pages.

A decent sitemap functions as a roadmap of your website, allowing search engines to quickly find all of your essential pages regardless of whether or not your site has an internal linking structure. This holds true whether or not your website has a system of internal links. Sitemaps are helpful not just for search engines but also for humans who are trying to find specific content on your site. Although sitemaps primarily serve the needs of search engines, they may also help human visitors.

Sitemaps are helpful for search engines and humans, but they have slightly distinct formats that each group favours. Crawlers employ XML, while regular web browsers use HTML. Let us explain what sitemaps are and why they’re crucial for SEO no of your site’s aesthetic.

The Varieties of Sitemaps:

Two main types of sitemaps exist. Despite their differences in function, both are highly recommended and will help your website’s performance.

  • The XML Sitemap

First is an XML Sitemap, the most widely used sitemap format. It is written to assume that search engines can understand it independently, so it is aimed solely at them. XML sitemaps are often stored in your domain’s “root” folder. 

xml sitemapUncompressed, an XML sitemap must be under 50 MB and not have more than 50,000 URLs. If one of these thresholds is surpassed, your URLs will need to be distributed among numerous XML sitemaps. These sitemaps can then be combined into one master XML sitemap index file. A sitemap index should be considered the backbone around which your other sitemaps are built.

Sitemap indexes typically contain entries for multiple sitemaps, including but not limited to Blog Sitemaps, Product Sitemaps, Category Sitemaps, and Landing Pages Sitemaps. It may also include video and image sitemaps.

  • The HTML Sitemap

The second primary sitemap format is an HTML sitemap, which site visitors can read. From a UX standpoint, HTML sitemaps are more advantageous because they help visitors find specific pages. HTML sitemaps are typically located in the site footers.

There are also three other varieties of sitemaps besides the two mentioned above:

  • Image Sitemap

The Image Sitemap is a specific tool that aids search engines in discovering all the photos that are stored on a website.

  • Video Sitemap

A video sitemap is a technology designed to help search engines better understand the video content on a given website.

  • News Sitemap

When Google News has verified a website, a News Sitemap is added to help search engines better index its content. If you want the most significant results, you should include URLs to stories just published within the past two days.

How Do You Know Which Pages to Put in the Sitemap?

There is a simple process to figure out which pages of your site need to be included in the sitemap. Think about how crucial it is that a URL be simple to remember. When someone types in a URL, does that URL provide anything useful? Is that a link you want folks to click when they land on your site? Otherwise, it shouldn’t be there.

If you don’t include a URL in your XML sitemap, that doesn’t mean search engines won’t index it. They will index if they can follow the links and find the page’s URL. If you don’t want a particular URL to show up in search engine results pages, you can hide it from indexing entirely by removing the URL from your sitemap and adding the tags no-index and no-follow. By doing so, you’ll avoid having to deal with the issue altogether.

Which Pages Shouldn’t Be Included in Your Sitemap?

Some pages must be removed from the sitemap’s default settings. For your ease, I’ve listed each of these sections below.

  • Admin and Utility Pages (such as the login page, pages for wishlists and carts, etc.)
  • Broken links, server failures, and page re-directs
  • The absence of indexing for certain pages
  • URLs after filters have been applied
  • Web pages not allied by robots.txt
  • Specifically, parameterized URLs
  • Results pages from site searches
  • Websites that have been archived
  • Unofficial Texts
  • Multiple copies of this page.
  • Accessible via a lead generation form (PDFs, etc.)

If you want search engines to find all of your sitemap files quickly, you must take the following steps:

  • You must submit your sitemap index to the Bing Webmaster Tools and the Google Search Console.
  • In the robots.txt file you already have, add the URL of the index of your sitemap.

Sitemap and Its Significance

Sitemap structures are essential building blocks for any well-maintained website.

If your website is modest, has an extensive system of internal links, and does not store any media assets, you can skip creating a sitemap.

However, you will need to post a sitemap to make Google aware of your site if it is enormous and has a vast collection of information, pages, and media files. A sizable website with plenty of content but few external links.

Sitemaps serve an essential purpose for websites for a variety of reasons.

  • The Potential of Easily Navigable Site Maps

User navigation sitemaps are sitemaps that are written in HTML and are designed for specific users.

HTML sitemaps are a text list with clickable hyperlinks connected, allowing users to easily navigate by selecting the URL of a necessary topic. You can find the link to the HTML sitemaps in a website’s footer for HTML sitemap SEO. Users can navigate this sitemap by simply clicking the URL of the desired subject area.

This is a sample sitemap from an online store selling men’s clothing and accessories, including those categorized as “Boys Fashion” and “Men’s Fashion.”

  • Increase the Number of Linking Opportunities

Web admins that seek to boost the visibility of a company’s website in search results employ sitemaps. If you’re just getting started in the digital world, sitemaps are your best bet because they’re what web admins use to boost their clients’ sites’ rankings in search engine results pages.

If your website has 100 pages and the search engine bots crawl it, but only 42 of those pages show up in the results, that’s because the bots can only read certain types of files. This is due to the presence of visual content on your website.

It could be because no external sites link to them or because internal links between pages on the site are weak. In such a scenario, probably, Google won’t be able to index your content.

The search engine crawlers will have an easier time indexing your site’s pages if you supply them with a sitemap that includes all the pages.

In addition, the audit data is helpful for web admins looking to enhance the crawling of larger or more complicated websites. Using GSC, you may update the specialized files on your site with the most recent modifications and fix the faults discovered.

  • Sort All the Clutter on That Massive Website

Sitemaps are collections of URLs that list every page on a website. You can also add components that help search engine spiders find and index those hard-to-find details. Sitemaps help facilitate the discovery and indexing of your site’s pages.

The sitemaps are also modifiable, so you can go in and make any tweaks, do any inspections, or make any updates whenever you choose.

  • The Convenience of Content Access for Search Engine Robots

Although Google can discover most websites and web pages at some point, if correct linking is done, it can cause Google to become confused and cause it to rank a page with little authority, which can eventually cause your rank to decline.

The sitemap structures offer an easy-to-follow route of URLs for search engines like Google and Bing to crawl and accordingly index the pages and content of the website by providing the results that are the most relevant to the user’s search query. This helps search engines provide the best possible experience for users.

And this can help you rise in the ranks of SERPs (search engine results pages).


Developing a sitemap may seem like extra work to some, while having a fully functional website for others may be crucial. An excellent case for employing a sitemap is when:

  • You have a new website
  • It has a reduced number of backlinks
  • You have a massive website
  • You have a terrible interlinking strategy

A sitemap designed with a specific goal in mind may increase the site’s chances of success.

Site maps let search engines crawl your site and index your pages. It will then save this information in its database, raising the probability that it will send users to your site during a search. After that, it provides support throughout the remainder of the customer’s buying process, increasing the likelihood that they will complete the purchase.

If you would like to know more strategies to increase the traffic to your website, check out Strategies to Increase Your Blog Traffic. For more helpful articles, check us out here.

Lark Begin is a digital marketer from Ottawa, Canada. Lark is an SEO Master, PPC expert and content writer. She helps many small businesses get ranked on Google each day.