What a great question!
The main goal of a sitemap is to allow web crawlers to crawl your web content as fast and as easily as possible.
This is huge for your website’s SEO. Sitemaps allow for faster indexation of your new pages faster, in turn allowing for your pages to be displayed in website search results faster too.
From an SEO standpoint, this more organic traffic, and the chance to rank for more keywords.
Users are a secondary purpose of sitemaps. Sitemaps can also help your website users find specific pages quicker. The type of user that looks for a sitemap is likely a little more technical—a practice that has carried over from the early days of websites.
Types of Sitemaps
You are correct that there are many types of sitemaps. Each type of sitemap is designed for a specific user:
XML sitemaps are designed for search engines are designed for web crawlers, to allow them to easily index your website pages.
are designed for website visitors, to allow them to easily understand what kind of information to expect.
There are actually 9 types of sitemaps all together, but XML and HTML are the two preferred formats.
XML is not optional, but HTML sitemaps are.
To answer your questions:
1 - What is the best practice for sitemap location?
Your XML sitemap does not need to be “placed” on your website, and is already included in your REW template.
REW templates sitemaps are updated automatically every 24hrs, a bonus with being a REW customer!
Your HTML sitemap is up to you to link to. Best practices usually link to your HTML sitemap in your footer, as this is where users tend to look for a link.
You can choose which pages are shown in your sitemap right, through your CRM. Content > Page
So it is up to you what you include. Blog posts you almost always want to include, as well as your main navigation pages.
This sitemap will automatically update, in real-time, as well.
2 - Are sitemaps automatically updated?
YES! As I mentioned above, the XML file is updated every 24 hrs, and the HTML sitemap is updated as soon as you hit save.
3 - How do I check if my website is indexed?
Since we are on this topic, I did want to mention that you should be checking the status of your sitemap within (Google) Search Console.
Search Console will tell you if your sitemap has been indexed, and if there are any problems.
You can also request a crawl, which you would do with the first upload, or if you have added any new major pages.
I hope that helps!
REW Corporate Marketing