Top 4 Reasons Why Your Shopify Store Needs A HTML Sitemap (XML Sitemap Comparison)
Sitemaps, regardless of the form they take, contain a complete listing of the pages on your website and links to each of them.
From assisting in boosting SEO, to increased usability and accessibility improvements, having a sitemap can help to make your Shopify store more friendly to search engines and your customers simultaneously.
In this article you will learn:
- The benefits of sitemaps
- The differences between HTML and XML Sitemaps.
- Why your Shopify store should consider adding a HTML sitemap in addition to an XML sitemap.
What is the difference between a HTML sitemap and a XML sitemap?
XML sitemaps contain a list of links with additional metadata for all pages on a website. These sitemaps are mainly created for search engines like Google to find and index all of the content on your website. Learn more about the technical standard for XML sitemaps here.
All Shopify stores have an automatically generated XML sitemap containing links to all products, primary product image, pages, collections, and blog posts.
HTML sitemaps also contain a list of links to pages on a website, but are usually organized by section to enable easier or deeper browsing of the website’s content from one central area.
While Google prioritizes XML sitemaps when it comes to crawling your website and the structure of HTML sitemaps makes them more friendly to browse for humans, HTML sitemaps also have several added benefits that Google factors in when ranking websites.
Read on to find out what these are and why your shopify store needs an HTML sitemap:
Why does my Shopify store need a HTML sitemap?
1. Boost SEO
HTML sitemaps help you rank even higher on Google, as a more structured complement to an XML sitemap. Their structure helps search engine crawlers more quickly determine what content is the most important and how it is organized. This ultimately helps to bring more customers to your store.
Google themselves has said that “in most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.”
Especially for stores that carry many products, have pages which are isolated and difficult to access within 1-2 clicks from the main menu, or change frequently, having a well-organized HTML Sitemap is essential.
2. Increase Usability
HTML sitemaps make your Shopify store’s structure clearer, essentially acting as a directory. In addition to basic features such as search functionality and a traditional main menu, they make navigating your store more user-friendly thanks to the structured map of your store’s content they provide.
The alternative navigation option this provides for visitors is especially useful for stores with hundreds or thousands of products that might otherwise be difficult to access using the traditional main menu.
It reduces what is known as “crawl depth”, which is a measurement of how far away a page is from the homepage; how many clicks it takes to reach it. The fewer number of clicks it takes, the better.
By listing and categorizing your store’s products and pages on an HTML sitemap, not only will you increase your store’s usability for visitors, you’ll also be signaling to search engines that you value user experience. This is something that search engines like Google also care about.
3. Improve Accessibility
As defined by the Web Accessibility Initiative, web accessibility is when “websites and web tools are properly designed and coded” and “people with disabilities can use them”.
Providing a sitemap is one of many techniques that you can employ on your Shopify store to help bring it closer to complying with WCAG (Website Content Accessibility Guidelines). Providing a sitemap is useful especially for people with disabilities who may have difficulty using complex navigation bars on different parts of your store.
4. Easily Identify Site Structure Issues
Adding a HTML sitemap to your Shopify store will enable you to quickly browse an overview of the content on your store.
When you have a high volume of published products and pages on your store, and multiple people working on your store, it can become difficult over time to keep track of them all.
A HTML sitemap will make it easier to spot duplicate or old content and take action to remove them from your store. This in turn ensures that site visitors don’t access inaccurate information and lowers your chances of being penalized by search engines for such content.
HTML Sitemaps offer the best of both worlds: they make your store simultaneously better for both search engines and customers
It’s difficult to think of another example of another single, simple technique that can have as much of a positive impact on not only your Shopify store’s SEO, but also the experience of visitors and potential customers of your store besides the addition of a HTML sitemap.
Plus, adding a HTML sitemap to your Shopify store is easy and there is no penalty for doing so according to Google. It can be done manually, or automatically through apps like:
If you operate a Shopify store, we recommend considering adding a HTML sitemap today.
- Google Search Central – Learn about sitemaps
- Techniques for WCAG 2.0 – G63: Providing a site map
- Shopify Help Center – Finding and submitting your sitemap (XML)
- Crazy Egg – What Are the SEO Benefits of XML & HTML Sitemaps?
- CallRail – XML sitemap vs HTML Sitemap: SEO benefits for each
- BSS Commerce – HTML Sitemap: What, Why And Is It Still Useful For SEO?
- Search Engine Journal – 7 Reasons Why An HTML Sitemap Is Still A Must-Have
- Semrush – HTML Sitemap: The Benefits for SEO and Users