Google’s John Mueller said for some sites, you can ignore the Google Webmaster Guidelines that says you should have “a page with a human-readable list of links to these pages (sometimes called a site index or site map page).”
John said in some or probably many cases, you don’t need to do that. John said on Twitter “If we can crawl your site normally, especially if the site is smaller, that’s not really necessary.”
Here are those tweets:
If we can crawl your site normally, especially if the site is smaller, that’s not really necessary.
— 🧀 John 🧀 (@JohnMu) November 30, 2021
In fact, John said a couple of years ago that human sitemaps are not useful for SEO purposes. In 2016, John downplayed the importance of HTML sitemaps but in 2009 Matt Cutts said HTML sitemaps come first. But I am not sure I’d go with the advice from over ten years ago.
Now XML sitemaps for Google is probably an important thing for mid-to-large sites. But human readable sitemaps? Probably not so important.
So maybe Google should update the guidelines to reflect 2021 advice?
Forum discussion at Twitter.