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HTML Sitemaps

HTML Sitemaps

HTML SitemapContents

HTML Sitemaps

A HTML Sitemap should contain a link to every page on the website that you want people to find.

If however the site is particularly large it s often better to have several sitemaps broken into relevant sections / categories should be used to link (collectively) to every page on the site.

Base sitemaps on the site architecture for the most efficient and useful implementation. Every website should have a sitemap no matter how big or small the site is.

HTML Sitemaps differ from their XML counterparts; you can read more about XML sitemaps by following the link.

Benefits of HTML Sitemaps

HTML sitemaps have two primary benefits; they provide navigation to users and also a link to every page on the site. Every page on a website should be linked to at least three times (internally) and a sitemap provides the opportunity for one of those internal links.

The more verbose and well-structured your sitemap the better it will meet the interest of improving user experience.

Location of HTML Sitemap

Typically sitemaps are located in the root of the domain for example at www.example.com.au/sitemap.html but equally this could be a directory page that links to all of the HTML sitemaps present on the site. Unlike files such as robots.txt the HTML sitemap does not need to exist in any particular directory for it to be found by search engines.

By linking to the sitemap from the home page or from the footer, ensures that all of your webpages are easy to find by Search Engines. This also passes on authority from the home page to the rest of the site via the sitemap.

Dynamic Sitemaps

On larger sites there is a greater need for dynamically generated sitemaps. This means that when new pages are created they will be automatically added to the sitemap, reducing maintenance and web development time updating them. Equally when pages are removed, they should also be removed from the sitemap.

Sitemap Structure

As mentioned, your HTML sitemap should represent your website structure in its layout. For example:

Home Page
Category 1

  • Sub category
  • Sub category
  • Sub category

Category 2

  • Sub category
  • Sub category
  • Sub category

Category 3

  • Sub category
    • Product page
    • Product page
    • Product page
  • Sub category
    • Product page
    • Product page
    • Product page

This makes navigation easier and also provides a logical structure reflected in both the URL hierarchy of a site and the structure of the sitemap.

Multiple Sitemap Structure

If a site has thousands of pages it becomes more pertinent to break these up over several sitemaps, primarily this provides a better user experience as no one can efficiently look through 20,000 links on a page to find what they want. The SEO implications are not huge but there is a chance that when indexing a page Googlebot will truncate the information if there are too many links.

How many links should you have on a page and what is the limit? Well, pre-2009 the answer would be 100, but Google has advanced significantly since 2009. Back in the day Google would crawl around 100Kb of content on a page before potentially truncating that content.

Now though, with faster Internet speeds, better tech and so forth, web pages are typically a lot bigger and Google are typically a lot better at processing links! Matt Cutts says in this video that you should just try to keep it to a reasonable number.

The implications from an SEO perspective are that the number of links on that page divides the page authority that flows through each link. Thus if you have 100 links, each link passes on 1% of the page authority, if you have 1,000 links each link passes 0.1% of the page authority. For more information on this please see the Internal Linking article we have created.

There are no hard and fast rules for how many links to put on a single HTML sitemap, instead consider the structure of the sitemaps and the impact on both SEO and UX (User Experience). Structure multiple sitemaps in a fashion consistent with site structure. For example:

  • Master Category (sitemap) – contains links to all other category sitemaps
  • Category 1 (sitemap) – contains all products in this category
  • Category 2 (sitemap) – contains all products in this category

These can then be linked to from within the relevant category to which they belong.

HTML

The code used to link from within a sitemap is detailed below in an example:

<a href="http://www.example.com">Example anchor text</a>

We have broken down what each part of the above code means

<a href=" - The href attribute specifies the URL of the page the link goes to.

http://www.example.com - This is the example URL of the page being linked to

"> - This closes the linking component of the code

Example anchor text - This is the text that will be turned into a link, in this example it would look like this: example anchor text

</a> - This closes the <a> tag and completes the code.

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