SEO Glossary: Sitemap

In a nutshell: What is a sitemap?

A sitemap lists the exact structure of a website, including all directories and subpages. There are different sitemap variants that are suitable for both users and search engines.


What is a sitemap?

If you translate the term sitemap into German, it means something like "page map". This lists all the documents on a website in order of hierarchy to provide an accurate overview of the page structure.


There are different sitemap types:


The HTML and XML sitemap. While the HTML sitemap primarily provides users with an overview of the content, XML sitemaps are suitable for search engines. The first variant was used first when the sitemap was introduced. Later on, the XML variant was also increasingly used. This is accessed by search engine crawlers from Google and other search engines.


In addition, a sitemap can assist in finding different content types. It supports the following sitemap types:


  • Video sitemaps
  • News Sitemaps
  • Image sitemaps


Tip: If a sitemap has been generated, it can be added to the search engine dashboard. This is how Google, among others, welcomes it in the SEARCH CONSOLE to insert an XML sitemap. This can help the search engine to recognize the content.


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How is a sitemap structured?

As already mentioned, there are basically two different sitemap variants.


These will be briefly discussed again below:


  • HTML Sitemap: It is primarily excellent for giving visitors a better overview of the content. It is firmly linked in the website and accessible for every user. Moreover, it serves like a kind of table of contents.
  • XML sitemap: The XML format of a sitemap is primarily aimed at search engines. It offers far more functions than the HTML sitemap to provide search engine crawlers with even more information. This makes it easier for search engines to understand what a website is about and what content it offers.


Example of a video sitemap:

Search engines like Google have difficulty recognizing the content of videos. That makes it all the more important to explain to search engine crawlers exactly what the videos are about. And the best way to do that is to add metadata.


Here every single video clip is listed with URL to the video page, video file, title and description. Additionally, it makes sense to include a link to the preview image (Thumbnail-image) of the video.


By the way: Are you not sure which type of sitemap is best for you? You can also use both at the same time. This way you offer a great added value for both visitors and search engine crawlers.


How do you create a sitemap?

To create a sitemap, only a few steps are required. There are a lot of different sitemap generators on the Internet that automatically generate sitemaps with just a few clicks.


Users of content management systems like WordPress can additionally install a corresponding plug-in, which automatically generates sitemaps. So if a new post is created and published, the sitemap will be updated automatically.


This is how HTML sitemaps are built


  • To build a HTML sitemap, only some basic HTML knowledge is required
  • With the help of href attributes a list is created. This list contains the link to the respective subpage and the title of the page.
  • Furthermore, as HTML sitemaps are built for users, the design is customized at the same time using various style elements


This is how XML sitemaps are built


  • An XML sitemap, on the other hand, has a somewhat more complex structure. Here are listed various tags like that, and
  • In addition, it is possible to enter information about the frequency of changes, the date of the last change, and the importance of the change.
  • As you can see, some more attributes are possible here. To create such complex sitemaps, comfortable sitemap generators are also available.


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Conclusion: What is a sitemap?

A sitemap helps both visitors and search engines to better recognize the content of a website. It serves as a kind of table of contents and can be created either in HTML or XML format.

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