Google’s Search Advocate, John Mueller, has always been minimizing the value of HTML sitemaps and prefers XML sitemaps over HTML sitemaps.
Recently on Mastodon, John said HTML sitemaps “should never be needed”.
What is an HTML sitemap?
An HTML sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the pages on a website. Its goal is to make websites’ visitors navigation easier.
An HTML sitemap is normally found in the footer of a website, where anyone can access it.
HTML sitemaps vs. XML sitemaps: What is the difference?
HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps have different purposes.
Indeed, XML sitemaps are created for Google, Bing, and other search engine crawlers to help them find all the URLs on your website.
On the other hand, HTML sitemaps are made for the users to help them navigate easily through your website.
HTML sitemaps should never be needed
John Mueller, from Google, said:
“I changed my mind on HTML sitemaps over the years, they should never be needed. Sites small & large should always have a clear navigational structure. If you feel the need for a HTML sitemap, spend the time improving your site’s architecture instead.”
Back in the days, HTML Sitemaps were cool and important, but not so much anymore. With the technology we have today, if users can’t easily navigate through your website and can’t reach your content without using an HTML sitemap, you should totally rethink your website’s architecture and make it more user-friendly.
John also wrote that “HTML sitemaps fit into the same bin with HTML loading spinners,” and that “HTML loading spinners are bad for SEO.”