Along with the hidden XML sitemaps, many sites publish an HTML sitemap to help their rankings. Google says it doesn’t help.
When it comes to sitemaps on a website, there are two main types:
The first is an “XML sitemap”, which is ugly to look at and is intended for Google to process.
The other is an “HTML sitemap”, which looks more friendly to humans, and Google can crawl through as well.
However, Google says that HTML sitemaps are not worthwhile for SEO purposes. Google’s John Mueller gave a few reasons for that.
He said: “When it comes to SEO … for small sites, your site should be crawlable anyway & for large sites, they’re not going to be useful anyway”
There’s the other angle that these HTML sitemaps could be helpful for users. For that, John said:
“Do they make sense for users? I guess it’s a good signal that your normal navigation & in-site search are bad if people end up going to your HTML sitemap pages.”
That’s a great point. If users are skipping your main navigation and search features and they use your HTML sitemap to find the content they need, that’s a really bad sign.
It’s worth pointing out that there doesn’t seem to be a bad side to having HTML sitemaps. If you have one, you can leave it up there. I just wouldn’t worry about creating them for each site you build.