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How-to 6 min read August 28, 2019

How to create the correct HTML sitemap

HTML sitemap a page with the second level of nesting. It contains links to useful pages on the website. The main task of the HTML sitemap is to help the user find the desired section or page on the website. Besides, this is an additional interlinking.

Why you need the HTML sitemap

If you don't create the correct sitemap and users cannot find what they need on their own, you may lose them. In order not to risk customers, create the HTML sitemap. The sitemap includes a structured list of all pages on the website with a hyperlink to each of them.

Keep the basic principles in mind when creating a sitemap:

  • Structured presentation of information. Arrange the pages of the website in strict accordance with their hierarchy from the main page to sections, subsections and landing pages of a product/service.

  • Availability. The sitemap should be located intuitively to the user. Normally, the sitemap is located on the main page. The best location for the sitemap is in the website footer.
Site map in the footer example
  • Place an additional link to the sitemap for the user on the 404 error page to continue his session on existing pages.

  • Brief information about the content. Small comments on sections and pages will help you quickly find the right product/service. Thus, the user will not leave the website because he searched for a long time and is tired of this process, but will successfully complete the session. This requires working on behavioral factors of page depth and bounce rate.

Also, keep in mind some important things:
1
Do not block the sitemap from being indexed by noindex + nofollow search robots. Do not close the robots.txt and x-robots-tag. Using a map, you balance the weight on the internal pages of the website, so it's better to keep the map open.
2
Don't clutter your page with thousands of links. This will complicate perception, and the sitemap will not be useful for the user, he will leave it in search of something simpler. If there is a need to list many links, it is better to create a multi-level map that will open sections in stages.
3
Be sure to leave links only to existing pages that are open for indexing. Technical pages that are not useful to the user should not be displayed on this map.
4
The sitemap requires regular updates. Clean up deleted pages and add new ones.
As a result, you should get a sitemap, as shown in the example:
Example of sitemap with several categories
As we can see, there are few links, they are grouped in sections, and the link is located on the main page. Another example of page classification by subject can be seen in a layered map:
An HTML sitemap example
Of course, if you are an experienced user and have the necessary skills, you will be able to create a sitemap manually. We will consider automatic ways to generate it.

Creating an HTML sitemap for a user

To speed up and automate the process, you should choose an HTML sitemap generator, for example, XML-Sitemaps. This is a free service for sites with up to 500 pages. To create a map, follow the link from the name. Paste the previously copied website address in the indicated field and click the "Start" button.
HTML sitemap generator
The report will be ready within several minutes:
Generation of the HTML sitemap
To open your map, click on the blue button below the report and go to the next page. Under the XML map, there will be a section where you can download all the sitemaps: XML and HTML ones.
How to download HTML sitemap
Transfer the downloaded files to the root folder.

If you need an HTML sitemap for WordPress, you can use a special plugin, for example, HTML Page Sitemap. There are similar solutions for other popular CMS.

Conclusion

HTML sitemap is designed for users. Its major task is to facilitate working on the website by structuring all pages in a hierarchical order. Keep in mind the following things when creating a sitemap:
1
The sitemap should be open for indexing to evenly transfer the weight of the website across its other pages.
2
Create multiple sitemaps or a layered sitemap not to place many links (more than 100-200) on one page.
3
Keep an eye on map updates and don't allow the deleted or technical pages there.
4
Place the sitemap in the website footer.
To create an HTML sitemap, you will need the appropriate skills. But there are ready-made solutions that allow you to create a sitemap online. One of the free generators for small websites is xml-sitemaps.

Without registration, you can get ready-made sitemaps for free provided that there are less than 500 pages on the website. Transfer the maps created by the tool to the root folder. Before that, check the correctness of the XML sitemap through the integrated Google Search Console panel.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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