Using HTML sitemaps for SEO is a powerful alternative to using anchor text links in the primary navigation to ensure deeper pages get crawled. HTML sitemaps create a significant and distinct type of residual ranking factor that are crawled by all search engines that xml sitemaps simply cannot replicate.
Before you balk and dismiss using html instead of dynamic driven ROR or XML sitemaps, keep in mind there are advantages and disadvantages of dynamic data such as load time, shared link-flow (distributed amongst inline categories) or hair-splitting link-loss canonical disparities through dynamic URL parameters.
The keep it simple solution for using HTML as a conduit is one of the oldest tools in an SEO’s toolbox. If you want to try something new, here is a twist on the common dynamic site.
Have you considered the strategic advantages to ring fencing html sitemaps as a means to channel ranking factor into the deeper less linked or traveled regions of your website? This is a very powerful method for invigorating complacent internal pages.
Say for example you have 10 lateral pages all in the root folder or 10 siloed pages deep in a category with no conventional connecting navigational structure; how do you feed your templates or feed starving landing pages?
The answer, use an HTML sitemap; to take it a step further you could (a) use an image and optimized alt attribute on each page (as the link) to connect to the pages to the sitemap (b) use the sitemap as an internal link hub (by concentrating inbound links from other websites to it) or (c) use the HTML sitemap as a type of “ghost navigation which is subtle yet powerful” to bind other relevant themed pages (which serves as a thread) to pass ranking factor.
Keep in mind that unless you want the sitemap to gain its own PageRank via osmosis from being linked from those pages, make sure to add a noindex, follow (a robots meta command that means not to index the page in search engines, but to follow the links).
This “ghost navigation” allows you to thread vast segments of flat or siloed pages seamlessly (much like the /wiki/ folder in Wikipedia) to pass vital ranking factor along to critical pages.
If you want to fuse a CMS and static HTML pages together, you can create hybrid segments of a website such as a dynamic WordPress, Drupal or Joomla sub folder and then add supporting content via relevant articles that contain topical semantic shingles “groups of words or phrases” you are trying to get ranked.
The takeaway here is, sure, you can stick with dynamic xml sitemaps for cyclical posts, but if you need to set certain pages apart from the pack as preferred landing pages, then consider limited the links to and from those pages and using channels of custom HTML sitemaps that only link to the most relevant page with the most relevant anchor text.
Despite the various reasons noted above, there is nothing like having an html suffix to let search engines know a page is static and it should be treated with more regard. XML works, but HTML really does the job when you want long-term stability channeled how you link it to the page of your choice.
The advantage of this technique, much link building links to your links is that you do not easily give away your ranking strategy through navigation, off page footprints or obvious on page SEO techniques.