XML Sitemap vs HTML Sitemap, which is better for Search Engine Optimization?

October 16, 2009

SEO Tutorials

Sitemaps….oh sitemaps…how we love you. You make it easy for Google to find everything that our web site has to offer. You make Google happy…and when Google’s happy, we’re happy….very happy.

Since Google came up with the whole XML sitemap scheme several years ago, I’ve assumed that in the world of Sitemaps, Google preferred XML sitemaps. Well, they don’t call me the seoFOOL for nothing…

Apparently, Google likes regular old HTML site maps better than XML.

You know what I mean by an HTML site map right? It’s just a regular old page on your web site where you’ve typed out a list of all the links on your site…manually.

Matt Cutts, Google’s ambassador for all things search related, explained a couple of days ago in a video HERE that Google likes HTML site maps better because PEOPLE like HTML site maps better. That is, an HTML sitemap is people friendly (someone looking for a specific link on your site can actually USE an HTML site map) whereas an XML site map is not quite so user friendly…it’s more for the search engines to use rather than for people to use.

Matt went on to say that BOTH Html and XML sitemaps are good….don’t mistake that….but all things being equal, Google just prefers the HTML site maps a little more. If you only had time to do one, he says, start with HTML.

So what do I think? I think you should use both…and in fact, I have always used both here at seoFool.com because my wordpress theme automatically creates an HTML site map that’s pretty nice (you can see a link for it at the top of the screen on any seoFool.com page), and of course, I installed a plugin that automatically creates an XML sitemap whenever I make a new post. I also submitted my XML sitemap to google.

I wouldn’t DREAM of calling Matt Cutts a liar…he knows more about SEO that I can probably ever hope to know…but Google has a special place where you can submit your XML sitemap…they have verifiers that..well…VERIFY your XML sitemap and let you know about any errors…they have extensive crawl data for your sitemap that you can read….and…well…they don’t really do anything about HTML site maps. But Matt says they like HTML better than XML so we’ll say it too!

But you should definitely use both….I mean, why not? In fact, that’s what Matt suggests in the video.

What do you think? Which kind of sitemap do YOU use? Comment below!

4 Responses to “XML Sitemap vs HTML Sitemap, which is better for Search Engine Optimization?”

  1. Gareth Says:

    I suppose using both covers all the basis. But, unless you have a big site and are continually adding fresh content, I don’t think the XML sitemap is required.


    • John Elder Says:

      Hi Gareth,

      You may be right…Google can certainly crawl your site without it. But..

      1. Why wouldn’t you continually add fresh content?

      2. Why not add it anyway if they’ve stated that they like it? It can be done automatically with zero effort ie wordpress (if you are using wordpress) can create one automatically once you install a free plugin. *shrugs*

      I don’t know…Google went to the trouble to create the xml sitemap standard, and it doesn’t take me any effort to comply…so, why not?


  2. Globinch Says:

    Well explained. Sitemaps are really important.


  3. Carmine Schriever Says:

    I truly liked this article, this one will go straight to my stumble upon webpage :)


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