Both sitemaps and robots.txt files are tools used in SEO to communicate with search engines, but they serve very different purposes.
A sitemap is essentially a map of your website that leads Google or other search engines to all your important pages. Sitemaps can be created in XML or HTML format. An XML sitemap is a structured document that helps search engine bots understand the content of your site while an HTML sitemap helps users navigate your site.
Example of a basic XML sitemap entry:
The robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers which pages or files the crawler can or can't request from your site. It is a way of requesting search engines to not index certain parts of your website. This file lives at the root directory of your site.
Example of a basic robots.txt file:
In summary, while both are integral parts of an effective SEO strategy, a sitemap is more about guiding search engines to your important pages, whereas a robots.txt file is about blocking search engine bots from the sections you don't want indexed.