I’ve just read an article about how it’s important to have an HTML sitemap to ensure Google indexes all of your webpages, while I agree with this to a certain extent I certainly don’t think it’s always essential, especially for small websites. My way of thinking is that your site structure should be made simple, using intuitive categories to help both users and the search engines to find your content easily.
Looking at two very large UK websites the BBC and eBay they organise their website’s very well with clear navigational categories. But in addition to this eBay uses an overall sitemap while the BBC has sitemaps for each sub-section. Are these needed? From an SEO point of view I would say no, Google should have no problem finding each webpage but I guess the decision is based upon the user. If the site analytics are showing that users regularly visit and navigate webpages through the sitemap it’s definitely useful if not then perhaps it’s unnecessary.
I’ve added a poll as I’m interested in seeing how everyone else feels about this: