I want to create a sitemap for my e-commerce website.

On the home page, there is a multi-level menu like this:

enter image description here

User can click on any of the following links from the Home Page:

  1. Fashion: enter fashion department
  2. Fashion > Women: enter the Women's sub-department under Fashion
  3. Fashion > women > Shoes -> enter shoes unit under women

There are also pages link Help and About Us that user can navigate to from Home Page.

With respect to SEO, which is the better way to create a site-map?

enter image description here

So user have 2 ways to navigate to Women's sub-department, either directly through Home page or by navigating from Home to Fashion and then to Women page.


The user can navigate to department (e.g. fashion), sub-department (e.g. women) and unit (e.g. shoes) from home page. Since this is an e-commerce website like eBay or gumtree, users would continuously create their own ads. So if user navigate to shoes unit, they would see the synopsis for 30 most recent shoes (30 is page size). And the content of this page keeps changing as new ads are created.

  • create multiple product specific sitemaps and include them in the sitemap.xml Jul 31, 2019 at 12:43

3 Answers 3


Your question actually breaks down into a couple categories, each of which has different considerations:

XML Sitemap In your XML sitemap, you can specify both change frequency and priority ranking for the various pages. This helps search engines identify how significant a page on the site is and how often it should be crawled for changes. Avoid listing pages of duplicate content such as /fashion/women/shoes and /fashion/shoes/women. For such cases, pick one url as the canonical one to submit to search engines.

URL Structure Keeping to a minimum hierarchy in your url structure for each page or faceted search results will help allow a search engine to index your site and show top level category pages. (for example, the Search result of a department store might show the various departments).

User Experience A menu with too much depth may result in poor user experience, as the user could be overwhelmed by the choices or just tired of drilling down through many levels of navigation. Having a good faceted search interface with the most common categories as predefined filters can help avoid an overly complex menu. Likewise, having breadcrumbs on the page can help users navigate back to the top level category or subcategory pages.

Search Engjne Optimization for products themselves For each product on your site, consider adding schema microdata in your markup. This will help the search engines identify the individual products available for sale on your e-comm site. Refer to https://schema.org/Product

Also, consider adding an rss feed or xml feed and submitting it to multiple sources to imrpove your site's reputation.

  • Thanks for your answer... but it does not explain which sitemap structure I should use. I am happy with the multi-level menu and don't intend to change it. I don't believe that the depth is a poor user experience, as a user who wants to buy shoes can directly navigate to shoes, and don't have to navigate to fashion and then women in order to click on shoes. Jul 27, 2019 at 20:33
  • Although this an old post/answer, it still applies. The xml sitemap itself is not hierarchical. webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/33455/… Jul 29, 2019 at 0:33
  • If you are looking to provide an html sitemap for end-users, and content strategists, then a hierarchical approach would be recommended- using nested h2, h3, and h4 headings to help depict the priority to search engines of those links on the html site map page itself. Jul 29, 2019 at 0:35
  • Thanks again, the sitemap is for search engines (not users)... if I understand the post in your link, I guess I should use a flat sitemap, is that right? Jul 29, 2019 at 0:49
  • 1
    The xml sitemap itself is a flat structure, the only things in it that would suggest hierarchy are the urls themselves and prioritization given to the pages. As far as search engines are concerned, they will use their own algorithms to determine how to show the pages of your site in a search result. Jul 29, 2019 at 0:56

I would choose the hierarchical sitemap.

If the user can directly click from the homepage the shoes section under the women category, the URL should still reflect that by being example.com/fashion/women/shoes. This is a distinction you have made yourself since you list shoes under the women section and this section is listed under the fashion section. URLs should reflect hierarchy. Even if you have a link on your homepage directly linking to shoes, the target URL should be the full path and not example.com/shoes.

Even then, assuming you can not (or do not want to) change the URL and you have the example.com/shoes as an alternative / additional link you should still choose the logical hierarchical representation you display to your user as the canonical URL to add to the sitemap.

The flat hierarchy example you provide may be representative of a possible user journey, but is not representative of your site's logical hierarchy .


You cannot receive a proper answer, if you are looking for "how search engines index your website sitemap. If your site is popular, these is no problem with the sitemap structure. If not, make flat sitemap. You can also give multiple sitemaps of your sub category items.

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