Best Sitemap Format for a Dynamic Website
A site map or sitemap is a textually organized model of a website’s contents that allow both man and machine to get access to your website. A man (user) can use it for navigating through the website to find the accurate information they are looking for while a machine (search engine crawlers) can use it for better indexing of your website content. The main advantage of sitemap is to allow the search engine crawlers index your site in a better way. Having a proper sitemap also helps in improving your search engine rankings.
A sitemap could have a several formats, some of the well known formats are HTML, XML and Feeds.
HTML sitemap is the conventional sitemap format and the most popular sitemap format in the early days of web 2.0. While XML and Feeds (Atom and RSS) became popular later in the subsequent years. The XML sitemap is one of the globally accepted sitemap formats in present days. It was introduced by Google in June 2005 and becomes very popular since after. Before telling you which one is the best sitemap format, I would like to give you an overview of the most commonly used sitemap formats.
Overview of HTML, XML and FEEDS Sitemap
The HTML Sitemap is the old school Sitemap and was meant to motivate the web crawlers to follow the deep links of the website as well as to help visitors to properly navigate the website contents. The first advantage of having a HTML sitemap is that it allows the user to easily navigate the site. Secondly it distributes the link juice among various pages of your site.
The XML sitemap is introduced by Google so they understand it well and definitely give more importance to XML Sitemap. With this sitemap file type, you basically submit search engines a complete list of all the URLs in your website that you want to submit to search engines. The advantage of using XML sitemap is that you can also add things such as priority values for all the URLs. Although, XML sitemap was originally developed by Google but it is also followed by all the major search engines like Bing, Yahoo and Ask.
ATOM or RSS Sitemap also known as feed sitemap, is also accepted by most of the search engines. For instance if you are running your blog over the blogspot blogging platform you can easily submit your Feed Sitemap to Search Engines. The advantage of using the atom or RSS feed as sitemap is you don’t need to generate an extra HTML or XML sitemap file, but instead you can submit your auto-generated feeds.
According to my personal experience the XML sitemap is best among these, it can be used to improve the indexing process of your website by search engines. It can also be used to provide accessibility to your deep inner pages (more than 6 clicks far from the homepage).
Recommended: If you have generated a XML sitemap for your website or blog then don’t forget to add a link to your sitemap in your sidebar or footer section of your site. Also do submit your sitemap link to Google Webmaster tools.