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  • Are HTML Sitemaps Outdated?

    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:

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    3 Responses to “Are HTML Sitemaps Outdated?”

    1. Fábio Ricotta says:

      Hello Kev,

      I reply your question via my own blog, but it is in portuguese. So I’ll try to explain what I think here.

      The sitemaps can help a lot into SEO bc they are pages that contains your principal pages categories and pages that users really needs.

      When you use a sitemap, the pages that you link from there are reacheble within 2 clicks from your index page. So these pages(that you link from your sitemap) are re-visited by a low-level crawler.

      This works for me and all the sites that I work. I think can work for all websites.

    2. semanjoe says:

      I would give sitemaps the thumbs up from user point of view and from a search engines perspective.

      Sometimes when I am on a site and can’t find what I want – I jump straight to the sitemap, sure you could argue that it is a weakness in the site’s design or me being lazy, which may both be true most of the time.

      Many sites have different designs and layouts (make ‘em interesting) – sitemaps tend to be similar and standardised, makes finding stuff easy!!

      From an SEO point of view, it gives you a great opportunity to use some relevant anchor text to the keywords you are targeting.

      Oh, and I think maybe that the engines are lazy too and like to head straight for the closest sitemap and cold beer!

      Joe

    3. Andy Beard says:

      It all depends on how you structure your content, but every site needs a way to reduce the crawl depth.

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