StatCounter Insights

Free Insights & Training in SEO, Web & Social Media

What is a Sitemap?

From an SEO standpoint, every website should have a sitemap. A sitemap enables Google and other search engines to better crawl your site, as it provides the search engine crawlers with the organization of your site’s content. In allowing search engine crawlers to more intelligently crawl your site, you can improve your search result rankings and bring in more traffic. That is as long as your site’s content is well-prepared and appealing to web users.

Not only are sitemaps important for search engines, but they can also be helpful for users looking for a particular page on your website. While sitemaps can benefit both search engines and users, the two prefer different sitemap formats, XML for search engines and HTML for users. Regardless of the type, allow us to explain sitemaps and their importance in SEO.

Suggested Reading

If you’d like to move forward in your SEO training, check out the pages provided below:

Sitemaps Explained

Essential Definition

A sitemap is a file placed on your website in which you list the individual pages of your website. Search engines use sitemaps to index and understand your site and its architecture, while web users can utilize them to quickly find specific pages on your site.

Once your webpages have been indexed, search engines use this information to rank them for search queries. Additionally, sitemaps can also include metadata, which provides search engines with specific page information, such as the last time it was updated.

Without a sitemap, search engines must rely on your site architecture to crawl the site. So, if your site isn’t properly linked, search engines will have a more difficult time crawling your site. This can ultimately hurt your rankings, as search engines will not have the information they need to index your website properly.

The two main types of sitemap are HTML and XML. An HTML sitemap is one that can be viewed by site visitors and can help them navigate to a specific page. An XML sitemap, on the other hand, can only be understood by search engines and is dedicated to specifically that. While they each serve different purposes, both are recommended and neither can hurt your website. Now, let’s take a closer look at each.

  • — Home
    • — Services
      • — Service A
      • — Service B
      • — Service C

As you can imagine, an HTML sitemap can get immensely complex with larger websites. Larger websites can still benefit from having an HTML sitemap because of the positive effect it can have on the user experience—which is allowing users to search and select a specific page they’re looking for.

XML Sitemaps

As mentioned before, while HTML sitemaps are more helpful from a user experience point of view, XML sitemaps are preferred by search engines. XML sitemaps are easier for search engines to crawl compared to HTML sitemaps and are often hidden from the user.

You can choose from a plethora of tools to create an XML sitemap for your website, and once you have done so you will need to submit your sitemap to search engines. This is the easiest and most effective way to index your website and begin ranking for keywords. Check out our page on sitemap generators

Sitemap Insights

Simply put, sitemaps are essential to search engine rankings. While you can rely on clean site architecture to allow crawlers to understand your site, a sitemap is a simple way to ensure it’s accessible to crawlers, while also catering to the user. If you’d like to learn more about sitemaps and how you can create and add one to your site, check out the Insights pages below:

Track Your Stats with StatCounter

Once you’ve created your sitemap and continue on with SEO, you can monitor your efforts with StatCounter. We provide a range of detailed metrics to help you understand site traffic and how users are interacting on your site. In keeping a close eye on your website and how traffic is responding to such, you’ll be able to maintain a sound SEO strategy and ultimately improve your rankings.

If you ever need assistance in utilizing our web tracker, be sure to contact our member support by completing the form below.

Share this article

Understand your visitors with Statcounter

See why over 2,000,000 bloggers, web designers, marketing and SEO professionals and small business owners around the world use Statcounter to grow their business.

Learn More