What is an HTML Sitemap? HTML vs. XML Sitemap, Creating HTML Sitemaps, Tips & Mistakes to Avoid

What is an HTML Sitemap? HTML vs. XML Sitemap, Creating HTML Sitemaps, Tips & Mistakes to Avoid

March 2, 2024

What comes to your mind, when you hear the word “sitemap”? A file that you submit in the search console to get your website indexed in Google right? Well, the sitemap you are thinking of is an XML sitemap. There is one more sitemap that is rarely spoken- HTML Sitemap.

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What is an HTML Sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is a webpage that contains all the links of a website in a list format. The links are displayed in a hierarchical structure, making it easier for users to check the navigational structure of the website.
That being said, the primary goal of HTML sitemaps are there to improve the user experience, by providing an alternative method of navigating a website. This comes in handy when you are visiting a large site, such as an e-commerce store, or a site that has a complex structure.
An HTML sitemap also allows search engine crawlers to discover the site easily, and index the pages. However, we have XML Sitemap for that.

Benefits of an HTML Sitemap

There are several benefits to having an HTML sitemap on a website:

It Improves User Experience: Give a clear overview of website’s structure and content, allowing users to find relevant information faster.
It Helps You Access the Site More Easily: It provides an alternative mode of site navigation, which is great for sites with large number of pages or complex structures. For example, if your e-commerce site has 1000 products, checking the navigation links by visiting each page from the main menu will take hours or even days.
Meanwhile, an HTML sitemap has all site structures and links perfectly aligned in a single webpage. This allows you to check your site structure with ease.

It Helps With Search Engine Crawling and Indexing: Although search engine crawlers follow XML Sitemaps for indexing pages, HTML sitemaps can also help crawlers to discover and index pages.

It Evenly Distributes Ranking Power: With an HTML Sitemap, you can use internal linking to create a central location where all your important pages are linked to.

For example, you can use your homepage as your central location, and link all the other links to the homepage through internal linking. That means, if your homepage gets any ranking power, all links linked with the homepage will also benefit.

HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap: What's the Difference?

Both HTML and XML Sitemaps serve important roles for Users and Search Engines Alike.

HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap

HTML Sitemap
XML Sitemap
Facilitate human website navigation
Facilitate search engine crawling and indexing
HTML webpage with hierarchical links
XML file following a specific schema
Accessed by human visitors through web browser
Submitted to search engines for crawling
Improves website usability and navigation
Facilitates search engine crawling and indexing


HTML Sitemap: The primary purpose of HTML Sitemap is to allow users to navigate a site more easily. The webpages or links of all pages is structured in a hierarchical list, giving a clear understanding, which sites come under whom.

XML Sitemap: while HTML sitemap is for humans, XML sitemap is designed for search engines. It allows search crawlers to crawl a site more effectively.


HTML Sitemap: The information in HTML Sitemaps are displayed in a browser, with HTML markup. The links of the site is organized in a hierarchical structure, making it easier for users to navigate through sections and pages.

XML Sitemap: An XML sitemap comes in an XML file that is written using a specific schema defined by the sitemap protocol. The information in the XML sitemap file contains a list of URLs. Each URL is enclosed within tags, including additional information as:


  • Metadata
  • Last modified date
  • Priority

This allows search engine crawlers to understand the site structure, and their importance.


HTML Sitemap: They are generally located in the website’s footer or other areas where users can easily find them.

XML Sitemap: XML sitemaps can be accessible by typing “xyz.com\sitemap.xml” on the browser’s address bar, but they are not for human visitors. They are submitted by site owners or seo services provider to search engines through tools like Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tool. This allows search engine crawlers to discover and index the URLs within the sitemap.


HTML Sitemap: They are for improving website usability and navigation for human visitors, by providing an alternative way for users to find specific content and explore different sections of the website.

XML Sitemap: XML sitemaps are added to sites for search engine crawling and indexing. They allow search engines to discover URLs within a site and understand its structure and importance.

Know about XML Sitemap in details.

Is an HTML Sitemap Good for SEO?

An HTML Sitemap has no significant impact on SEO, but that doesn’t mean they are completely irrelevant.
HTML sitemap can be used as an extra booster to increase your chances of indexing. Usually, search engines go through your XML Sitemap for indexing your page. You can add an additional navigational structure for search crawlers. This might be helpful for large websites with complex structures or dynamic content, which might pose a challenge for crawlers to fully navigate through traditional links.

On way, HTML Sitemap can help with SEO is through Internal Linking. This is because, HTML Sitemaps contains important links of a website arranged in a hierarchical structure. This helps in even distribution of link equity within a site, making it easier for search engines to discover pages and rank them, which might otherwise remain hidden deep within a site’s hierarchy.

However, you may not even need HTML for SEO. This is because, search engines have evolved its algorithm. Now they can easily crawl and index a site as you have a great site structure with proper internal linking. There are other factors to consider as well, such as core web vitals- LCP (Largest Contentful Paint), FID (First Input Display), INP (Interaction to Next Paint), and CLS (Cumulative Layout Shift).

Plus, if you have submitted a XML Sitemap, you are golden. They are the real deal in SEO. These files are created in a way that search engine bots are read and index them. When it comes with SEO, you should focus more on site architecture. Quality contents, and page performances, rather than stressing on HTML Sitemaps.

How to create HTML sitemap?

Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating a basic HTML sitemap:

Plan Your Sitemap Structure: List all the important pages and sections on your website that you want to include in the sitemap. Organize them hierarchically so that it reflects the structure of your website.

Create a New HTML File: Open a text editor or an HTML editor, such as Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, or Notepad. Create a new file and save it with a .html extension (example: sitemap.html).

Write HTML Markup: Start by writing the basic HTML structure for your webpage. Include the , , and tags. Inside the section, add a

HTML Sitemap Structure

The structure of an HTML sitemap can vary depending on the specific website’s organization and content, but here’s a basic example of how it might be structured:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
<title>HTML Sitemap</title>
<h1>HTML Sitemap</h1>
<li><a href="/">Home</a></li>
<li><a href="/about">About Us</a></li>
<li><a href="/services">Services</a></li>
<li><a href="/products">Products</a></li>
<a href="/blog">Blog</a>
<li><a href="/blog/category1">Category 1</a></li>
<li><a href="/blog/category2">Category 2</a></li>
<!-- More blog categories -->
<li><a href="/contact">Contact Us</a></li>
<!-- Additional links to other pages -->

In this example:

  • The <h1> element indicates the title of the HTML sitemap.
  • The <ul> (unordered list) element contains a list of links (<a> elements) representing different pages on the website.
  • Each <li> (list item) element represents a single link in the sitemap.
  • Nested <ul> elements can be used to represent subpages or categories within the sitemap, creating a hierarchical structure.
  • The href attribute of each <a> element specifies the URL of the linked page.
  • Additional pages can be added to the sitemap by inserting new <li> elements with corresponding <a> elements.

How to Create HTML Sitemap Using CSS?

You can customize these CSS rules further to match your desired sitemap design. Adjust colors, fonts, spacing, and other properties as needed to create a visually appealing and user-friendly HTML sitemap.

Here’s a basic example of how you can style an HTML sitemap:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
<meta charset="UTF-8">
<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
<title>HTML Sitemap</title>
body {
font-family: Arial, sans-serif;
margin: 0;
padding: 0;

h1 {
color: #333;

ul {
list-style-type: none;
padding: 0;

li {
margin-bottom: 5px;

a {
color: #007bff;
text-decoration: none;

a:hover {
text-decoration: underline;
<h1>HTML Sitemap</h1>
<li><a href="/">Home</a></li>
<li><a href="/about">About Us</a></li>
<li><a href="/services">Services</a></li>
<!-- Add more links as needed -->

In this example:

  • The <style> element contains CSS rules that apply styles to various elements within the HTML sitemap.
  • The body rule sets the font family, margin, and padding for the entire page.
  • The h1 rule sets the color for the sitemap title.
  • The ul rule removes default list styles and padding from the unordered list.
  • The li rule adds margin below each list item to create spacing.
  • The a rule sets the color and removes the underline from links.
  • The a:hover rule changes the text decoration to underline when hovering over a link.

Important Tips for Creating HTML Sitemap

Always Follow the Hierarchy

Always structure your HTML Sitemap in a way that it perfectly displays the hierarchy of your website or organization. For example, you can interlink important pages together under a single thread. That means, you should link pages such as contact us, about Us, Services, Products, under a single thread (i.e. homepage). Plus, pay focus while creating sub-categories (such as under Services or Products) and link them to their respective hierarchy.

For instance, if you sell shoes (S), and under shoes you sell men shoes (A), women shoes (B), kids shoes (C), you must point links of A, B, C to S. This establish a hierarchy that A, B, C is under S.

Your site should look like:

  • https://xyz.com/products/shoes/men_shoes
  • https://xyz.com/products/shoes/women_Shoes


Use Descriptive Anchor Text

It’s better to be more descriptive, and give a clear picture of what the user will get after clicking a link. For instance, phrases like “click here for more info” doesn’t give anything. However, if you use anchor text such as “Read the Complete Guide for SEO”, it keep things clear and crisp.

Keep Everything Free of Clutter

Now you don’t want to cram all your stuff inside your drawer right? Same goes to sitemap as well. Avoid adding too much links in a single page. If you have a bigger site with thousands of pages, make sure to break them into multiple pages.

Keep it Updated

Update your sitemap as soon as you publish a new page.

Keep It in Clear View of Users

Upload the HTML Sitemap in a place that users can find it easily. The right place to place it is under footer, so that users can access it from any pages.

Common Mistakes While Creating Sitemaps

Incomplete or outdated content

Failing to include all relevant pages and content or update sitemaps regularly.

Poor structure

Not organizing sitemaps logically and hierarchically to reflect website structure.

Invalid URLs

Including incorrect, missing or malformed URLs leading to crawl errors.

Incorrect settings

Misconfiguring priority and update frequency settings which mislead search engine crawlers.

Lack of accessibility

Failing to make sitemaps usable for disabled users by not following accessibility best practices.

Poor user experience

Overwhelming users with excessive links or cluttered layouts instead of intuitive navigation.

Failure to optimize

Not testing sitemaps across devices, localizing as per markets, or submitting XML sitemaps to search engines.

By avoiding these 7 common sitemap mistakes and following best practices, websites can create optimized sitemaps to improve findability, accessibility and overall user experience.