How to Create Your Website Sitemap Like a Pro
When one of our readers suggested that we create a guide on how to create a website sitemap, the first question that came to my mind was, ‘which type of sitemap should we write about?’ Ideally, I knew they wanted us to write about the XML site map, given that it’s the most popular of them all. But I thought I’d take this opportunity to create an even more comprehensive post that covers the two other types as well.
But first, What is a Sitemap?
By now, you probably can guess that there can’t be a one-fits-all definition for the several types of sitemaps available. As such, we’ll explain each of them individually throughout this article.
With that said, the following are the three most common types of sitemaps:
- Visual Sitemaps
- XML Sitemaps
- HTML Sitemaps
A visual sitemap comes in the form of a diagram that represents the structure of a website for site planning purposes. It shows the flowchart of a site by outlining how various webpages link and relate to each other.
Visual sitemaps are a popular tool for website makers and planners who use it to plan and visualize their projects before starting development work.
How Do You Create a Visual Sitemap?
Creating a visual sitemap can be as easy as drawing the flowchart of a website on a piece of paper. However, if you’re looking for an easier and more fashionable to do this, you can automate the process using an online visual sitemap generator like WriteMaps.
When creating this type of sitemaps, the first step is to establish the purpose of setting up the site. Are you creating a platform for selling your products, providing information, or generating leads? Knowing this is key in determining the pages to include in your web diagram and how to interlink them.
If you’re creating or remodeling a map for an already established site, you might want to take into consideration existing data gathered from analytics tools. The idea is to try and understand possible areas of improvement based on how users interact with your current setup.
Once you’re done with this step, it’s time to create a quick draft sitemap. As we mentioned earlier, you can sketch a quick one on a piece of paper or use tools like Microsoft Word.
However, we highly recommend using a specialized sitemap designer app like WriteMaps, which does more than just creating your visual sitemap.
This tool allows you to format your elements using a variety of colors, supports easy sharing with relevant stakeholders, and comes with an auto save function. What’s more, you can collect and implement feedback until the site map is approved by every stakeholder involved.
An XML site map is simply a file containing a list of URLs that inform search bots about the accessible or live pages on a website. It also updates the search engine whenever you make changes to your web content for quick indexing. This explains why XML Sitemaps are so popular due to their importance in influencing SEO.
Who Can Benefit From Using an XML Site map?
• New websites looking to speed up indexing by search bots
• Large sites looking to improve navigation
• Websites with isolated pages (non-linked pages)
How Do You Create SEO-Friendly XML Sitemaps?
There are three stages involved here:
1. Create the XML Site map using tools like Screaming Frog, which is capable of crawling and listing up to 500 page URLs on any website for free.
2. Add XML Sitemap to your website – You’ll need logins to do this, but it’s as easy as uploading other web files.
3. Submit your site map to Google – Connect your website to Google Search Console and follow this tutorial to submit the sitemap.
An HTML sitemap is used to display the hierarchical structure of pages in a website. Most site owners who still use this type of site maps create a separate page dedicated to listing all their pages in a single place.
Usually, you’ll find this page pinned in the website footer area. Unfortunately, Google Webmaster Tools no longer support HTML sitemaps, which explains the reason their popularity has quickly plummeted in the past decade or so.
So, Do you Still Need to Have an HTML Site map?
The quick answer is NO. HTML sitemaps are now considered to be archaic with the improvements in site navigation. Today, websites can implement a wide variety of navigation tools available, including filters and search functions to help visitors quickly locate any resource they want.
So, there you have it, a complete guide that shows you how to create the three most common types of website sitemaps. If you have any unanswered questions on how to go about any of these processes, feel free to contact us. Happy sitemapping!