What is a User Sitemap?
A page containing structured links to every other important page on a particular website grouped by topic or navigational hierarchy. These pages are equally useful for people and search-engine spiders alike, as they provide a categorized look at every page on a website at a glance (with hyperlinks).
There are two different types of sitemaps: user and XML. The XML sitemap is an outline of your website, designed to help search engines better understand and more effectively crawl your pages. Usually, users never see the XML sitemap.
A user sitemap, on the other hand, is an outline of your website that’s designed for website visitors, to help them find what they’re looking for when the site’s main navigation isn’t doing the trick. Though they’re designed with people in mind and are crawled by search engines just like XML sitemaps are.
It started out simple; in the early days of the Internet, they were usually just the XML sitemaps converted into HTML documents. In their infancy, sitemaps were relatively small. Websites weren’t very complex, and users could easily scan the sitemap to find what they were looking for.
As time went on, websites and therefore sitemaps became more complex, especially with the introduction of large e-commerce websites and blogs. What used to be manageable and helpful was becoming ungainly and difficult to use.
DOES ANYONE STILL USE THEM ?
Google still claims that every website should have a user sitemap, but most people use the site search function when they can’t find what they’re looking for in the main navigation.
So, do we listen to almighty Google or our own users? Believe it or not, the answer is both. We can follow Google’s advice by implementing a user sitemap, but we can do so in a way that helps our website visitors find what they need.
However, the organization of your sitemap isn’t only about users. It can also improve your rankings in search results if you build it in a way that includes keywords, creates structure, and features your most important pages and posts.
Since Googlebot (Google’s web crawler) will use the sitemap to help determine how your pages and posts rank in search results. It helps visitors find the best content even if they never lay eyes on the sitemap itself.
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