Most developers will provide an XML sitemap for your website. This is great because all the search engines use those /sitemap.xml files to find all your web pages.
So what about an HTML sitemap? I'm sure you've seen a few: they are normally linked to in a website's footer. But have you ever wondered why they are there? (Here's what Volacci's HTML sitemap looks like.)
Well, some site visitors go looking for it to see what's available on your website, and -- if properly organized -- will allow them to determine your site's hierarchy and help them find the specific content they are looking for. But did you know that putting a sitemap that contains links to your most important pages can also help with cross-linking on your website?
What Is Cross-Linking?
Cross-linking is simply linking from one web page to another on the same site. This helps prevent orphan pages -- these are pages that have no inbound links to them from pages on your own website. The content on an orphan page might be very relevant and informative, but if the search engines don't see any inbound links to that page, they assume it's not very important content.
Conversely, when search engines find a page on your website that has many inbound links (such as those pages listed in your site navigation) they figure those are the most important pages on your website.
How Does an HTML Sitemap Help?
Having an HTML sitemap that gets automatically generated and is linked to on every page helps you avoid those orphan pages and provides more cross links to all pages on your website. This helps the overall SEO for your website, which is a good thing!
For Drupal websites, we always recommend installing the Sitemap Module. You can find installation and configuration instructions in our Drupal SEO Guide, or you can contact us and we'll help you with your Drupal site's SEO. We'd love to chat!