Difference Between XML and HTML Sitemap – A Complete Guide!

Last Updated on 27th November 2022 by Ajmer Singh

Sitemaps can be defined as a way to track the pages on your website.

If you want to make sure that your site is working well and that users are finding all the relevant information,

then you need to have a sitemap that describes every page of your website.

A sitemap helps search engines understand how the whole site works and organizes the contents in a more user-friendly manner.

difference between xml and html sitemap

What is a sitemap?

It’s basically a map of your website.

You know how when you search for something on the internet, the result page shows different links that are relevant to your search terms.

Well, sitemaps are like those links in an organized schematic way.

Sitemap helps web crawlers (spiders) understand what are the pages of your website and how important they are.

Why do you need a Sitemap?

A sitemap is beneficial for both your users and search engines.

A search engine’s job is to index all the content on a website so people can use them as a reliable source when they are looking for something online.

But if everything is just mixed together then that makes things difficult.

To make finding what you want easier, we need sitemaps to organize our site with its associated pages in one place in an easy-to-follow format.

Different types of Sitemaps:

A sitemap is basically a list of web pages.

However, there are two types of sitemaps depending on what type of content your website has:

XML Sitemaps – this type of sitemap lists all the web pages and directories on your site.

HTML Sitemaps – this type of sitemap lists only the web pages on your site, no directories.

What is an XML sitemap?

XML stands for eXtensible Markup Language.

It is what web crawlers use to find out which are the most important pages on your site, so it helps them crawl less frequently visited pages too.

You can submit this kind of sitemap to search engines for indexing.

What is an HTML sitemap?

An HTML sitemap lists only the web pages on your site, no directories.

It’s simply a list of links that are relevant to your website’s contents.

Difference Between Xml And Html Sitemap?

XML Sitemaps list all the web pages on your website, including directories.

It’s best if you have an XML sitemap because it helps search engines index all of your website content–not just web page links.

HTML Sitemaps are just simple lists of web pages.

This sitemap type is perfect for websites that have a lot of pages that are not linked to one another.

It’s also best if you have this type of sitemap because it will help search engines know what your website contains without having to do deep crawling, which may harm your site’s performance.

difference between xml and html sitemap

Advantages and Disadvantages of XML sitemap

Advantages & Disadvantages of XML Sitemap


Helps search engines crawl less important pages on your site.

Helps them index more frequently visited pages faster Provides a preview of the content of your website.

Allows you to submit a sitemap for Google and other search engines to see.


Takes time to open up the page and load.

If you have a lot of web pages on your website, it can take a while for these pages to load.

Advantages & Disadvantages of HTML Sitemap


Your website will load faster.

HTML sitemaps are not as good when it comes to helping search engines rank your site higher in search results.

But they’re perfect for websites that have a lot of pages that aren’t linked to one another.


Helps search engines index less important pages on your website. It doesn’t provide an accurate preview of your website–its contents.

It may be seen as unreliable by search engines since not all content is revealed when you use an HTML sitemap.

difference between xml and html sitemap

How to create a sitemap?

There are various sitemap methods that you can use on WordPress websites.

And the most popular one is to have a plugin that will automatically generate them for your website.

A native method is using Yoast SEO plugin. It will create a sitemap automatically by just enabling the option in the settings.

Why are Sitemaps important?

The sitemap is a website’s index.

It contains information about all of the pages on your blog or other sites, listing each link in an easily navigatable and searchable format.

difference between xml and html sitemap

This benefits your website in a lot of different ways, and one is when you have multiple pages on your site.

Search engines like Google can follow the links on the sitemap to find all other content.

Search bots can also crawl through this file and see what text crawls out at either end so they know how navigational information should be displayed.

What are the benefits of having both XML and HTML sitemaps?

Having a sitemap helps search engines index your website faster.

It’s best that you have both types of sitemaps because it will give you a more accurate preview of what type of content your site has.

This way, web crawlers can easily figure out which content is the most relevant to your site.

FAQS about sitemaps!

difference between xml and html sitemap

Q: Which sitemap should I use?

A: It depends on your website’s purpose and content. If you want your website to load faster, then it’s best to use an HTML sitemap.

However, if you want search engines to get a preview of all the web pages and directories on your site (in order of importance), then it’s best to use XML sitemaps.

Q: What are the benefits of using both types of sitemap?

A: Having both HTML sitemap and XML sitemap will give search engines a more accurate preview of your website content.

This way, they can easily see which web pages on your site are most relevant to your content.

Q: How do I create an XML sitemap?

A: SEO plugins will create sitemaps automatically like Yoast or rank math.

Q: What are the best practices when it comes to submitting an XML sitemap?

A: Submit your sitemaps to Google first. Once it’s crawled, crawl the sitemap page again to make sure that it has actually indexed your site.

After that, submit your XML sitemap to Bing and Yahoo! (if you also want to be included in their search results) .

Q: How often do I need to submit my sitemaps to Google, Bing, and Yahoo?

A: Submit your sitemap every time you update your website content.

No need for manual submission if you are using a plugin because the plugin will take care of that for you.

Q: Does it matter where I put my sitemap file? Like on what directory or folder should I place it?

A: It doesn’t matter where you put your sitemap file, but it’s best if you keep it at the root of your domain.

That way, all of the links in the HTML sitemap will direct search engines to that location.

xml vs html sitemap

Q: There are broken links on my XML Sitemap. What do I do?

A: Check for broken links by checking the sitemap index file.

If there are broken links, update them and re-submit your XML sitemap to Google Webmaster Tools.

Then crawl it again to make sure that the broken links were fixed and working properly.

Q: My website is not appearing on Google’s search results even though I’ve submitted my sitemap. What do I do?

A: If you have submitted your sitemap but your website is still not appearing on Google’s search results, it’s probably because the crawling of your website has been disabled by Google for some reason.

Make sure that there are no errors in your HTML sitemap and XML sitemap first.

Q: What is a robot.txt file? How does it affect my website’s search results position?

A: A robot.txt file tells search engines where they can and cannot crawl on your website.

If there are errors in the robots.txt file, it will affect your website’s search engine ranking because this may hinder or prevent the crawling of important pages on your website.

Q: What are the best practices when it comes to submitting a robots.txt file?

A: Check for errors by checking the sitemap index file.

Make sure that all of your website’s web pages have been included in your XML sitemap and only include the necessary directories and webpages in your HTML sitemaps.

Also, avoid putting unnecessary disallow or allow directives in your robots.txt file.

Q: What are the common reasons why crawling is disabled in Google’s robots.txt file?

A: There are many possible reasons why crawling in your robots.txt file has been disabled, such as:

-disallowing crawling of important pages in your websites like login and registration pages.

-having broken links in your HTML sitemap.

-blocking certain directories from crawling. [ex. blocking the admin directory]

-having file types that are not allowed to be crawled on your website, etc.

xml vs html sitemap

Q: What are sitemap errors?

A: There are different kinds of sitemap errors, but they can be easily fixed by rechecking your HTML sitemap and XML sitemaps for any broken links, missing pages, etc.

Q: What is a sitemap index?

A: A sitemap index file lists all of the sitemaps that are currently available for a website or a webpage.

Thus enabling search engines to easily crawl all of its content as opposed to crawling through broken links and following redirects from one webpage to another.

Q: How do search engines find our sitemap?

A: They find it by crawling all of the web pages on your website, looking at what you have listed in each file and picking out those with which they can link.

Q: What should I know about the sitemap files? What format to use and what extensions can be used (HTML, XML)?

A: XML is the most accepted way of generating a sitemap because it contains all details about your website’s page structure, image links etc.,

for you to present in one beautiful file that search engines like very much.

xml vs html sitemap

Q: What is the next step after setting up your sitemap?

A: Immediately submit it to all major search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc. because the more web pages they are able to find, the better.

Q: How do search engines take that sitemap into account?

A: Once you have passed them your file and submitted it via their own submission tools, then wait for a few days until they start including page information.

Q: Can a search engine index hundreds of pages with a sitemap?

A: Yes. Once your sitemap is completely indexed and included in the official index you will no longer have to submit it again.

Q: How long does a sitemap take?

A: It depends on how much there is to index.

A sitemap can take anywhere from hours to days or even longer in some instances but for average websites, you won’t need more than a few late evenings’ work.

Q: Is an XML sitemap the same as an HTML sitemap?

A: No, they are different types of files and create two completely separate programs which both have their own advantages and disadvantages.

difference between xml and html sitemap

Q: Can I post a sitemap as an attachment to an email?

A: Yes, it can be done. Just make sure you include the ‘sitemap’ filename in the body of your message and that’s all you have to do.


A sitemap is a file that tells search engines what pages on your website are important and should be indexed.

It is important to have a sitemap created for your website.

This will ensure that your pages are properly indexed by the search engines and they can help you make changes to them whenever there are updates or additions.

This will help the search engine to crawl your site more efficiently, which in turn helps with ranking for specific keywords.

So basically, having both HTML and XML sitemaps is best because it makes your website more appealing to search engines.

Having both will help search engines figure out what type of content you have on your website like blog posts, videos or images plus if you don’t want them to visit certain pages.

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