HTML & XML Sitemap: Which One Should I Use?

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I’m always tempted to say, “Wait! There’s a plug in for that!” and in this case, there really is. If you’re using WordPress you can download the Google XML sitemap plug in or you can use the Clean Archives WordPress Plug in. Obviously, the Google plug in is in XML. On the other hand, the Clean Archives plug in is in HTML. Now I bet you’re wondering which one you should use, right?

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What is the purpose of a sitemap?

A sitemap has two purposes. Most people think of it in relationship to WordPress SEO. Having a sitemap on your blog makes it easier for the crawlers to find all the content on your site and get it to the index. For SEO purposes it’s important to remember that the search engine bots will have an easier time listing all your pages from an XML sitemap. For that reason, most people install an XML sitemap, which is the markup language recognized by the crawlers.

What is an HTML sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is simply a page you set up with HTML links to all of the pages and posts on your site. So, it’s essentially an archive. You can create these links yourself, manually, or if you’re using WordPress you can use the Clean Archives WordPress Plug in.

Again, as mentioned above, an HTML sitemap makes it much easier for your readers to find content on your blog, especially if you have a lot of content to sift through. While it may be true that Google doesn’t like you to have more than 100 links on a page, the seem to overlook it if those links are there to provide a better experience for the reader.

Which sitemap should you use?

The XML sitemap simply makes it easier for the bots to crawl your site. This is only really important if you notice your posts and pages aren’t indexing properly, or they’re taking a long time to index. If you’re building a strong, linear internal linking structure, and you’re monitoring your blog for broken links, then the bots will automatically find your new content without an XML sitemap.

In some rare cases the XML sitemap can actually slow down the crawlers because it pinpoints every single URL on your blog. Every element on your blog has its own URL including videos, images, even your background and header. Once your blog is established and the content starts building up, it actually becomes more difficult for the bots to crawl your site. An XML sitemap might end up causing a delay in indexing if it’s not built properly.

Provided you’re building that internal linking structure and paying attention to SEO you’d be doing your blog and your readers a favor if you drop the XML sitemap and install an HTML sitemap instead.

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