What is a HTML Sitemap?
The HTML sitemap (or site map) is concept that might be foreign to many folks who create a new website.
But why is that?
For search engine optimization (SEO) or website navigation purposes, the HTML sitemap is an integral piece of content that can guide people around your website. For more information about the HTML sitemap and where and why to use it, keep reading!
What is a HTML Sitemap?
The HTML sitemap is NOT the XML sitemap. With an XML sitemap, this is automatically generated by WordPress and allows for better crawling by Google. In response, with a WordPress website automatically has an edge over non-WordPress websites by default.
The HTML sitemap takes the navigation layout of your existing website and breaks it down in a basic form.
You know that top navigation bar? Remember when you first smartly thought out how menu items would be displayed there (we hope)? That is precisely what the HTML site map does.
Why use an HTML Sitemap?
The HTML site map is effective for accessibility, navigation, and internal linking purposes.
It is always nice to have more internal links on your website. What an HTML site map does is essentially create a page that links to all of your internal pages. This is good for increasing SEO on a smaller level, since it places more internal links on your pages and in turn improves your domain and page authority.
But there are also plenty of considerations to make when thinking about the usability experience of a website. Imagine that a customer comes into the site and imagine that this same customer is also color-blind. Maybe the layout of colors and design makes it so that it is difficult to navigate the website.
Maybe your design simply sucks and is hard to use!
In either case, the HTML sitemap provides an alternative to typical navigation on the website.
How to make an HTML Sitemap
On WordPress, making an HTML sitemap is as simple as creating a page and typing whichever links you would like on the site. You can make a sitemap that includes blog posts, helpful resources, or simply a site map that goes over the basic “parent navigation” items from your website’s menu.
From there, you simply link each piece (perhaps in bulleted form) to the proper content of that page. For example, if your About page is yourwebsite.com/about, that is the link you want to use in the site map.
Where do you put an HTML Sitemap?
The HTML sitemap will typically go in one (or both) of two places.
The 404 Page
The 404 page is a perfect opportunity to provide help to someone who might be lost. Obviously, if the customer is on the error (404) page, then he/she clicked on the a bad link or guessed at a URL and got it wrong. Placing the site map on your 404 page allows the user to say, “Oh!! Here is a link to the page I was looking for!”
Our themes and designs automatically generate an HTML site map in the 404 page, but this is NOT default functionality of WordPress.
You can also create a separate page like mentioned above and link to it from the footer of the site. For “boring” pages like contact, accessibility, and site maps, people will typically look to the bottom of the page for answers.
Here is an image of what it would look like to place a couple of links to a site map on the footer.
Thank you Dan Zarzycki