HTML Sitemap vs. XML Sitemap: Google Says HTML Comes First

Oct 9, 2009 • 8:36 am | comments (9) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

In one of Matt Cutts' videos on SEO questions, he answers a question about if you should build an HTML or XML Sitemap. An HTML sitemap is an old school landing page for users to find all (or most) of your pages on your web site via single page. In many cases, for large sites, a site would require many HTML sitemaps to make this useful, but for smaller sites (see RustyBrick's sitemap), it makes sense to put everything on a single web page. An XML sitemap can also be multiple files, but they are not visible to a user, only a search engine spider.

When Matt from Google was asked if you had a choice, which one would you pick, he picked an HTML Sitemap because both users and spiders can chew on it. I am not sure if most SEOs would make the same selection, but this person didn't ask an SEO, he asked Matt.

Here is Matt's video:

As Matt said, once you make an HTML sitemap, making an XML version is extremely easy. So, my advice, do both, if possible.

Forum discussion at DigitalPoint Forums.

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Adelaide DJ

10/09/2009 11:55 pm

very useful, thanks for sharing! twitter(at)locspoc


10/10/2009 06:36 am

And I always thought Google favors XML more, since I've always read it on other blogs.


10/10/2009 03:15 pm

Great post. Thanks.


10/12/2009 04:01 am

Pretty dang interesting! I'm currently solving a problem for a client with some pretty poorly programmed sitemaps. Google is clearly using the data from the xml sitemap and not the html one. First 100 links in the xml sitemap are ones that shouldn't be there first, and it's causing all sorts of strange indexing issues.


10/12/2009 01:58 pm

thanks for a great post


10/13/2009 04:10 pm

I thought Matt would be the right person than any SEO person and he is well accessible, hence threw the ball into the lion's court and got clear reply than any wishy washy answer from an SEO expert. Moreover, many webmasters and SEOs were puzzled and didn't have a clear answer on this aspect, now that it's clear. The underlying theory of search engine bots itself is scanning html links, so why do you want separate sitemaps for bots and human beings?

Mihai S

02/18/2011 11:10 am

Alltho sitemap.xml is now a standard we shouldn't disregard natural indexing. Because most of the online sitemap generators do not allow more than 500-1000 URLs in the fitemap (for free) I've made my own online sitemap generator which allows up to 20.000 URLs and it's free of charge. You can find it at:

Sandeep Pattanaik

10/10/2013 12:38 pm

joomla extension xml create xml sitemap like sitemap-xml.html but its content write in xml. I thank Google webmaster only accept xml sitemap to submit. Is google accept my sitemap sitemap-xml.html? Any help will appreciate. Regards, Sandeep


06/27/2014 05:20 pm

So the question arises here is where to put the both sitemap? Correct me if i am wrong: HTML sitemap on the home page and XML in the root directory. Is that so or something els?

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