Do HTML sitemaps provide any value to a site's ranking?
 by Kristi Hagen

Do HTML sitemaps provide any value to a site's ranking?

  • I know that XML sitemaps have advantages including speed of indexing and being favored by Google.

    But I’ve also heard that anchor text on an old-fashioned HTML sitemap page provides Google with keyword relevancy signals for the site's internal pages.

    As such, we have been maintaining the HTML sitemap pages on all of our clients' sites. Is this approach still of value?

Answer:

We rarely, if ever, use HTML sitemaps anymore. Although, we can't be entirely sure that having links from an HTML sitemap with anchor text won't have some small impact, we'd bet that if you remove them, you wouldn't notice any difference in your rankings. That's assuming, of course, that you have a regular menu structure throughout the site.

However, if traffic shows the HTML sitemap page actually provides value to your users then that's a good reason to keep it.

In general, a link buried in the footer pointing to a page full of links is unlikely to be of any value to a site's rankings or to its users. We also want to stress that you don't want to lean on a HTML sitemap to ensure pages are being indexed because that is treating a symptom instead of the problem.

If you have pages that aren't getting crawled except through a sitemap then you need to be sure your site's internal linking is sound. Abandoned pages very rarely do well in the search engines. Use a tool to identify those pages and then diagnose why they aren't included in your site's main structure as well as within your internal linking.

We often use Sitebulb to visualize a website's URL structure from a birds eye view, this can help greatly to identify odd clusters of pages or major problems with the sites linking structure.

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For a deep dive into XML sitemaps, take a look at:

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