What is a Sitemap?

Simply put, a sitemap is a list of pages on your website and how that content is organized. It’s a list of pages of a website available to both search engine crawlers and website visitors. A sitemap can be used as a development planning tool for web design. Usually the website pages are organized hierarchically. This helps the visitors and search engine bots (crawlers) find specific pages on the website. Think of a sitemap as a Table of Contents for the website pages.

There are two types of sitemaps. There is the visual one that is created before building a website – the planning tool also know as a Wire Frame Drawing. The most important kind of sitemap, however, is the XML sitemap which is a list of the pages, videos and other files and how they are related on the website that the search engines can interpret.

“An XML sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your website to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your website.” More about sitemaps from Google.

The sitemap not only tells the search engines that pages exist but also what’s on the pages, for instance rich media like images, video or audio.

You can help Google know that you have an XML sitemap through the Google Search Console. Submitting it alerts Google that the website exists and is ready for Google or other search engine bots to crawl and index the website.

The other sitemap is the one that is usually displayed in the footer which lists the pages on your website to help the visitor understand how the website is organized.