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As a sitemap rsp. Site map , more rarely also: page overview , is the complete hierarchically structured representation of all individual documents ( web pages ) of a website or website (page structure). Ideally, the sitemap also shows the hierarchical linking structures of the pages. It serves as an analysis and planning tool.

A sitemap can also be made available by the operators of a website to give visitors an overview of the scope and structure of a website. In the case of very extensive websites, not all individual documents can be displayed in the sitemap, so that one is limited to the representation of the hierarchical structure.

Sitemaps have an essential function for search engine optimization .


Organizational chart of the Google website.
Representation of the links between pages

The sitemap is not to be confused with a table of contents . The table of contents indicates which topics are included in the website. This does not necessarily have to coincide with individual documents, because a single page can contain several topics. Nor should the sitemap be confused with an index (e.g. alphabetically ordered) . The boundaries between these areas can, however, be fluid.

Advantages and disadvantages

Sitemaps are an effective means of search engine optimization , as they ensure that all pages of a website are accessible. This is particularly relevant if parts of the page are generated with Adobe Flash or JavaScript menus, for example . H. Have barriers.

In addition, many search engines usually only follow a certain number of links within a website, so that a sitemap for very extensive websites may be necessary for search engines to capture all the pages of a website. Sitemaps - both in XML and HTML format - provide the search engine with an index of all pages, so to speak, and thereby simplify indexing.

In terms of the user-friendliness of a website, a well-structured and clear navigation is generally preferable to a sitemap. Using an internal search within a website, visitors can usually find what they are looking for more quickly; In return, the webmaster does not have to worry about the administration of a sitemap.

If a sitemap is created in HTML format, it can be used by visitors and can serve as an additional orientation aid in addition to the navigation bar and the search function. This in turn increases the user-friendliness of a website.


The sitemap is usually just as much an electronic document as the other documents it contains. Its top level usually corresponds to the navigation bar .

Web pages are often a (static) HTML file or a dynamic page that is generated for example by a content management system or a wiki on the basis of all pages created by the author when accessed.

Sitemaps for search engines

The idea of ​​a machine-readable sitemap (e.g. for search engines ) leads to the sitemaps protocol , which contains URLs of websites including some metadata ( last update , frequency of changes , relevance , relation to other URLs of the website , ...). Such sitemaps enable search engines, for example, to make websites easier to search.


  • Jesse James Garrett: The Elements of user experience: user-centered design for the web . New Riders, Indianapolis 2003, ISBN 0-7357-1202-6 .

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