Creating an HTML Sitemap: Best Practices

Creating an HTML Sitemap: Best Practices

HTML map — one of the essential elements of the structure of most Internet resources. Despite this, literally a few understand its features. Now we will try to fill this gap. Let's talk in detail about its functional purpose, about the impact it has on SEO-promotion site. After studying the materials, you will see how important the HTML map is for each site. Here are some general guidelines that will allow you to create it yourself.

Introducing HTML Map Functions

The HTML sitemap is a static directory containing all the main sections of the site, placed in full accordance with the internal hierarchy. That is, it will combine both the table of contents of your resource and a guide to it. Most HTML maps are presented in a tree structure. A link to it can be found in the footer of the website. Its presence will be especially relevant on sites with a complex, branched structure with a large number of directories and subdirectories.

That is, the main purpose of the – it is a visualization of the resource structure and simplification of navigation through it. Its use will be useful not only for ordinary users, but also search robots. By scanning the HTML map, crawlers get a complete list of links to the key pages of the site. You yourself, when creating it, indicate which pages will be the main ones, and which — secondary. Thanks to this, the crawling of the site and, accordingly, its indexing are significantly accelerated.

In an example, it would look like this. Suppose you are selling children's toys, namely Barbie dolls. In this case, the navigation to the corresponding page will look like this:

Home page — Product catalog— category "Toys for girls" — subcategory "Dolls" — subcategory "Barbie Dolls".

If you count the nesting levels, that in this example there are 5 of them. That is, in order for a bot or an ordinary person to get to the category "Barbie Dolls" it will be necessary to pass through all these blocks. But, if you use the site map, then all actions will be reduced to three transitions:

Home Page— Sitemap— subcategory "Barbie Dolls".

Practice shows that with the help of an HTML map, pages with a nesting depth of up to 7 levels can be reduced to 3-4 levels.

Tip: if you want to show the structure of the site, including the main sections, categories and subcategories, brands, then you can add the corresponding priority pages to the map. This is true for site objects that are strategically important for business, and whose nesting depth is more than 4. Thanks to this, both crawling and subsequent indexing will be significantly improved. But still, from the point of view of internal SEO-optimization of the site, it is not recommended to place priority pages at such a click depth: 4 — this is the limit.

Also, the benefits of a professionally compiled HTML map include increasing the link mass of the page. The thing is that the card itself — this is not a landing page. But it, being in the footer, is able to transfer sufficient weight to other pages. Link to it— through. And this means that all pages of the resource will link to the HTML map.

Key HTML Map Properties

Above, we have already emphasized that only a correctly compiled HTML map will have high efficiency. Here are a number of criteria that it must meet:

  1. A simple structure. It should be understandable on an intuitive level. So that any user, having entered it, can find the desired page with a minimum number of clicks.
  2. Relevance. If you make changes to the structure of your site, then adjustments to the HTML map should be made immediately.
  3. Only valid pages. The map should only contain links to the pages you are promoting. What is closed for indexing should be removed from it.
  4. Full compliance with the actual structure of the site. HTML map — this is an exact copy of your resource's fork.
  5. Single style for map and site. The design of the HTML map should easily resonate with the overall design of your site.

Now that you know what your HTML map should look like, you can move on to creating it.

Practical Tips for Creating an HTML Sitemap

Before proceeding directly to the very creation of an HTML map, it is important to think through its structure and key aspects to the smallest detail. The recommendations of experts will help you with this:

  • Add links to all pages in the HTML sitemap that are open for indexing which will display its structure. You should include the main sections of your catalog, categories, subcategories. But it is not recommended to add pages with specific products. So, if we talk about the Barbie doll, then when creating a map, it is worth stopping directly at the catalog itself with different models. But a specific product card should not be added to it. There is also no need to include filter pages, posts, blog articles, paginations.
  • Don't forget to update the map regularly. So the list of pages of your resource will always be up-to-date and both users and bots can easily navigate in it.
  • For sites with a complex structure, you can use a multi-page HTML map. This is relevant if you plan to place more than 150 links.
  • The placement of links implies a pre-thought-out logical structure that would correspond to the hierarchy of the site's pages. That is, it is necessary that there is a transition from sections to categories, and only then to subcategories.
  • For anchors and links, use relevant keywords. Transactional requests should be rejected. That is, remove the phrases containing the words "order", "buy", "price", "inexpensive"; etc. At this stage, your task is to create a map that would help the user find the section or category he needs. Requests should be relevant here as well.
  • The link to the HTML-map should be placed on all pages of the site, that is, in the footer. It is even better to provide it on the 404 page. It should include only those links that contain a server response with "200" codes.

Take these recommendations into service and you can proceed to the direct creation of an HTML sitemap.

Sequence of steps for creating an HTML sitemap

In order to create your own HTML-map of your Internet resource, you can use special services and software solutions. Here are the most common options:

  1. SiteMap Generator service. With it, you can immediately create several varieties of cards. If your site has no more than five hundred pages, then you can use this program for free. Also, the modern market offers other online map generators. There are no hard and fast recommendations here.
  2. Plugins for CMS. The most common solution in this segment is — this is a WP Sitemap Page designed specifically for WordPress.
  3. Using the Netpeak Spider offer. This option is the most popular among users, so let's dwell on it in more detail and consider an example of creating an HTML map.

Creating an HTML sitemap using Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider has a built-in tool called "Sitemap Generator". With it, you can create a variety of sitemaps, including HTML, set individual settings in the process of their formation. To generate your own map, follow our recommendations step by step:

  1. Launch the Netpeak Spider program. In the sidebar, select the Options tab. Here we need to pay attention to such blocks as "Head tags", "Headings H1-H6". It is necessary that everything that is in them be ticked.
  2. In the address bar, specify the site URL (main page) and click on the "Start" button. This is how you start scanning the Internet resource.
  3. When the scan is completed, you need to go to the "Tools" menu block; in the upper right corner of the working window and here already click on the "Sitemap Generator" button. Check the "HTML Sitemap" section and set the required parameters. So, "Text Link Source" — this is the URL of your site, the H1 heading or the Title. "Segmentation" involves the formation of a sitemap either in one large file, or in several separate ones, including either 100 or a thousand URLs. In the option "Additional content"; you set the Descriptions content so that the system can understand what kind of content is presented on a particular page.
  4. If all parameter settings are set, click on the "Generate" button. After that, we need to select a folder on our computer where the created map will be saved. Then you can easily transfer it to the programmer, he inserted it into the site structure.

This completes the work on generating an HTML resource map. As you can see, the process itself is quite fast and simple. It does not require any deep knowledge and practical skills from you. It is enough just to use a reliable proven application. And we have already described the benefits that you will receive from the introduction of an HTML map on the site: the work of users and search bots is greatly simplified, and you remain the winner.

Summing up

Today, there is quite a bit of controversy surrounding HTML maps, in particular whether a site needs them or not. Some experts argue that for small Internet resources it is not needed at all, as it simply duplicates the navigation menu. Others say that if you organize the linking correctly, then the map will not be required either. But if one can still somehow agree with the first statement, then the second – far from the truth. Organizing professional reforging is much more difficult than creating an HTML map. It takes a lot of time, effort, and the result does not always meet expectations. In addition, the presence of such a map on the site indicates that the owners of the resource take care of the convenience of their users, allowing them to find what they are looking for in just a couple of clicks. And this is appreciated not only by people, but also by search bots when indexing.

If you pay special attention to your Internet resource, want it to be as simple and convenient as possible to use, take into account the maximum wishes of visitors, you should approach its development as comprehensively as possible. And this applies not only to the creation of an HTML map, but also to the development of the structure itself, the selection of a category, subcategory, and current topics. And in these works, mobile proxies from the MobileProxy.Space service will become a reliable assistant. With their help, you can significantly expand your functionality, provide multi-threaded actions on the network, access any Internet resources, even those that are blocked in your region.

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