A question arising from yesterday’s article about XML sitemaps was: “I don’t appear to have one, but I do have a ‘normal’ page on my website listing all the pages, so is that good enough?” And that probably leads to the question, should you have a normal page on your website acting as an index anyway?
The answer is that a ‘normal’ page on a website listing the website’s contents and acting as a sitemap is certainly better than nothing. But there’s considered to be a limit to the number of links which will be followed by a search engine crawler on any given normal website page, and a listing of an entire site may well exceed this. So a formal XML sitemap is preferable.
However, I do see a place for an index of a website which is designed for human visitors, even if it only lists (and links to) the different sections of a site. If the navigation of your website was really good, this wouldn’t have a role, but on so many sites, the whims of designers hide the structure of a site to such an extent that most visitors miss loads of good, relevant stuff.
We’ve become used to “contents” sections in books and magazines, and we all have an ability to skim through them and get an instant idea of what’s available. That’s not something which is available on most websites. You might consider adding one to yours.