Importance of Sitemaps for your Websites
XML sitemaps are very important from the SEO point of view. These sitemaps help search engines to understand just how much of the content needs to be crawled. However, their importance is often underestimated. Sitemaps, also help in improving the navigability of the site and making it more user-friendly. Sitemaps help you to structure your website. You can include the connections, external and internal links, the various sections, and headings and subheadings. In short, it tells either humans or spiders (in the case of Google) where and how to go within the site.
While Robot.txt is an exclusion protocol and tells search engines what not to crawl on your site, sitemaps do the exact opposite. It helps search engines index important portions of the website and thus improve its visibility. Google was the first search engine to use XML sitemaps which are different from ordinary HTML sitemaps. Now, other search engines are also following suit and thus the importance of sitemaps have grown further from the point of view of SEO.
Advantages of sitemaps
1. A sitemap is like a blueprint: A sitemap is like a blueprint for building a house. It guides people who are working on the project to design a website. It should be kept in a central location and in a format that makes it easily accessible. It helps everybody working on the project to know the project status, the changes that have been made or changes that may be made. It saves wastage of resources and extra work that would have been required otherwise.
2. A sitemap helps to understand the goals: A sitemap gives a goal and a plan to the designer. It helps the designing team to understand what they exactly want from this website and what needs to be done in order to attain those goals.
3. Avoid duplication of content: It would be a waste of time and resources if you continue to create similar content again, and again, every time you need it. It is far more elegant and efficient to interlink content. A sitemap helps you to understand which pages exist where and how they have been interlinked. It makes the process of linking easier.
4. Sitemaps make it easier for search engines to index changes: Although search engines take a lot of time to index new pages or changes to your website, the process can be made more streamlined by having a sitemap which captures the changes.
A sitemap is an essential part of a website from the point of view of design, SEO, and navigability. Google does not even penalize sites if they have one XML sitemap and another HTML sitemap. As the importance of indexing increases and search engines come equipped with better crawling algorithms, websites would need good sitemaps to make the process of loading the site URLs quicker.