Web Design Resources
There are two types of site maps for a website:
1. HTML Site map for the website
2. XML site maps for search engines
Both of them are geared to achieve the same result in the end: making the job of indexing pages easier.
Let's talk about a normal (HTML) site map first.
Once you have a website in place, it is essential (though not required) to have a site map in place. Any professional web design company incorporates a site map by default. Usually, a site map is placed in the footer. It comprises of a simple HTML (or PHP or .ASP) page that only has all the links of the website in text format. In other words, a site map is a website page that stores all the links of a website in a single place. Site maps are developed for both static and dynamic websites.
What is the use of a site map?
Whenever there is big website, that comprises more than 100+ pages, the chance that some pages do not have any links from any where else (called orphan pages) is quite high. A site map allows humans and especially search engines to browse all pages that a site has. For humans, it is a source whereby they can find an individual page / section fast; in case of a search engine it is useful to index the site.
An ideal site map consists of plain, no frills text links of the complete website, (with maybe a short description of the pages if required), and allow the search engine's spiders to crawl the pages.
Search engines love and look for site maps as they provide a simple means for them to cover every page of the website.
Sometime back, Google introduced its own version of a site map. A Google sitemap is a tool to index an entire website including when a page was last updated. The only basic difference in a normal site map and Google sitemap is that the Google map is developed in XML, and needs to be submitted to Google manually, but the purpose of the site map is essentially the same - ease of indexing a website.
No matter how well designed a website is, a site map is a must - both for the convenience of your users and the search engines.