Difference between XML and HTML Sitemap

Site maps are very important for your homepage SEO. Once you are done creating your site map, it is recommended that you submit it to Google webmasters tool so that Google can crawl your sitemaps. However, people often get confused when it comes time to decide which type of site map is better to use. Well it all depends on your website’s purpose. One of the main differences between the two is in how Google crawls the website.


The simplest explanation is that XML is primarily for the search engines while HTML is written for the users.
A XML sitemap protocol is specifically intended for search engine spiders. At its root, XML is a file that includes all the behind the scenes activity on a web site. Not just the site’s main URL, but all the URLs within the site along with the associated metadata. This can include when the URL was last updated, how important it is, the average frequency changes occur, the URLs relation to the rest of the site, etc.
HTML is just a general overview of the site, just the pages and info a user needs to be concerned with. If you’re on a web site and you’re looking for the shopping cart or the ‘Contact Us’ page and can’t find it, you’d go to the sitemap and easily find it there. While this is geared towards the user, it can also help your search engine ranking because your site is user-friendly and catering to the site visitor.
It basically it means that the person writing the program or code gets to decide what the tags means. With HTML you were not afforded this luxury. People usually get the two types mixed up, but XML sitemaps are not linked to from the official website, but usually on the domain it would say example.com/sitemap.xml. As I said before, the XML site maps are primarily used for the search engines. It really helps to augment the crawling and indexing of a website. Now if your website is crawl-able and index-able then you won’t have to worry as much about search engines finding all of your good pages or all of your important pages. But the XML sitemaps really help search engines crawl through your site in a much more efficient way, it alerts search engines to your presence and makes sure you are getting all of your important pages represented.
The internal or HTML site map is linked to from every single page of your website. It is also used for user experience so when you write this type of program you have to think about the user. We need a HTML sitemap to give our users a unique experience by promoting user orientation. User orientation is extremely important because they have to know where these site maps are on your site in relation to everything else. So if a user goes into your HTML site map, you want to make sure all of your important categories are represented and also all your major sub pages should be represented as well. However, you don’t want every page represented on an internal HTML sitemap like on an XML site map because that would not make any sense nor serve a purpose. Depending on the size of the site we generally want to have no more than between 100-200 pages on the internal sitemap page. If its a small website, then 50 pages would be adequate.
So both XML and HTML sitemaps help search engines crawl your site. The main difference being that a HTML sitemap helps visitors gain a comprehensive understanding of your site, while XML more specifically caters to the search engines. When you add new pages or content to your site, you can use XML sitemaps to notify the search engines.

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