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In Google's WebmasterTools, I submitted my site's XML sitemap, which is accessible through www.mysite.com/sitemap. However, no where on the site do I have an actual link that points to this.

Is there a benefit to having this - say somewhere on the footer?

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2  
Just to be clear & direct: NO, you do not need to add a link in your HTML pages to your XML Sitemap. Having one isn't bad, but can result in the Sitemap file being indexed as normal content. It's better to use the other methods as mentioned in the answers below. –  John Mueller Nov 7 '12 at 12:13
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5 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The only place on your site where you might place a link (or URL reference) to your XML sitemap is in your robots.txt file. This will allow Google and all the other search engines you've not explicitly submitted a sitemap to, that support this extended robots.txt syntax, to find your XML sitemap:

Sitemap: http://example.com/Sitemap.xml

Absolute or relative URL?

As mentioned in comments, the specification defines it as an absolute URL, however, the StackExchange network use a root-relative URL:

#
# this technically isn't valid, since for some godforsaken reason 
# sitemap paths must be ABSOLUTE and not relative. 
#
Sitemap: /sitemap.xml
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Would "/sitemap" as the entire path work just as well - no domain name listed? –  ElHaix Nov 4 '12 at 7:57
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@ElHaix: The specification defines it as an absolute URL (the sitemap doesn't need to be located on the same server for instance). Most examples I have seen all use absolute URLs, HOWEVER, this very site uses the root-relative URL /sitemap.xml - so maybe it does work? Or maybe they are making a statement (looking at the comment)? –  w3d Nov 4 '12 at 10:53
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FWIW we (Google) will currently process relative URLs like that for Sitemaps submissions in the robots.txt, but as you mentioned, it's not a part of the standard, and with that, it might change on our end & it might be handled differently with other Sitemaps consumers (other search engines, etc). So if you have the choice, I'd recommend just using an absolute URL. –  John Mueller Nov 7 '12 at 12:18
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I see a syntax warning in google webmaster tools from using a relative sitemap URL, and I'm not sure bing is picking up the sitemap via the relative URL, so absolute URL definitely seems to be the way to go. –  Kzqai Feb 24 '13 at 15:03
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The XML sitemap really is for search engines (ie, Google) and not humans. Put it on your root and give Google the path to it in your Google Webmaster account, as you did.

Make sure you keep it updated, since that really is the benefit of an XML Sitemap. I keep mine updated with a custom cron job that runs a PHP script to generate the new XML Sitemaps every night. This gives Google new links to news items or updates to pages that might have been made in the CMS over the past 24 hours.

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Do you resubmit your XML sitemap when it is updated? Or does Google pick up the changes automatically? The Google Docs state that an updated sitemap should be resubmitted, either in GWT or by issueing an HTTP request. –  w3d Nov 2 '12 at 19:04
    
You can resubmit, but you don't have to. Server logs show that Googlebot reads mine every day and I only update it, never resubmit. –  Kenzo Nov 2 '12 at 19:15
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I don't think that a visitor wants to read a XML-based sitemap. This type of sitemap is a good option for search engines like google so that the search engine can find really all sites of your project.

A sitemap has no guarantees for a better ranking of your sites but it is usefull if you use flash or JS menus whose links are invisible for bots.

For users just provide a structured navigation.

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I realize this has an accepted answer already, but a sitemap doesn't really have to be a scary proposition for a user. I link my sitemap in my footer, and use an awesome XSLT file from Joost de Valk that transforms it into a XHTML page. The article and download are here: http://yoast.com/xsl-stylesheet-xml-sitemap/

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That's pretty nice. Thanks for sharing. –  Kenzo Nov 8 '12 at 10:32
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Well XML sitemap is pretty beneficial for the website. Because XML sitemap is having bunch of all link present on you site, and it make more easier for the Google and another search engines crawler to crawl overall pages of you website.

This will help your site that whole pages of you website is been get index in search engine, but technically you don't need to mentioned it's link on the webpage or homepage because it's uneasy for use to figure out what the file is all about.

Yes! you can create HTML sitemap for that in which you can list all of the webpages and represent them in proper categorization. Which will also make user happy to drive around pages of you website.

hop that helps, thanks.

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