What is an XML Sitemap

What is an XML Sitemap, and how to create one?

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the website’s web pages and helps search engines like Google and Bing see the site’s structure and index it.

XML sitemap doodle

It provides all the information to crawlers, so they don’t miss out on any page of your website while crawling it.

An XML sitemap provides all the information to crawlers, so they don't miss out on any page of your website while crawling it. #sitemap Click To Tweet

Why do you need XML Sitemap?

This map is necessary to help search engines index your website. A crawler won’t crawl every page of your site, and they must do it to understand its content and structure fully.

Sitemap helps in:

1. Increase the speed of crawling by crawlers since they will access all pages in one single request.

2. It helps you understand how your site is crawling, if there are broken links or not, why some pages are being indexed and others are not.

3. Helps search engines better organize their index by understanding which page is most important for them to index firstly and less frequently accessed later on.

Search bar

An XML sitemap is a perfect tool to help search engines crawl and index your website. It’s a map that guides crawlers in the right path through the site by specifying which pages are available and should be indexed.

An XML sitemap helps both users and search engines when crawling a site. Crawlers won’t ever access every page of your site at once, so they must not miss anything.

How to create and submit sitemaps to Google via Search Console (Webmaster Tools)?

Now let’s look at how we can create and submit XML sitemaps to Google and Bing through the Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools).

How do you create a sitemap?

Creating an XML sitemap is not a complicated process. Here’s what you need to do:

1. Go to https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

2. Just fill in your root domain into the input field

3. Download the generated file as an XML file. (sitemap.xml)

4. Upload the file to your root directory and enter the URL in Search Console.

5. Submit the domain (Yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml) to the Google search console.

There are no advanced options to set when submitting a sitemap, so it’s straightforward.

When Google typically crawls your pages?

You might wonder when exactly Google crawls and indexes your pages. If you submit a sitemap, how does it know when to start crawling?

Google

Before we answer this question, let’s see how web crawlers work.

Crawlers come in batches or cycles to crawl all the pages of a domain (usually every 1-2 months). The time between these batches is called the crawl rate.

The higher your crawl rate, the more frequently Google crawls your pages. If you have an increased crawl rate, Google may crawl your site multiple times in one day!

This is why it’s important to improve your site structure and speed up the crawling process for better results.

Top 3 priorities with the help of XML Sitemap

There are three main things you should improve with an XML sitemap.

Sitemap structure

1. Improve site structure by creating subdirectories to organize your site better.

2. Speed up the crawling process by ensuring that all necessary pages are cached in Google’s index.

3. Reduce the number of broken links so crawlers can access all your pages without any problem.

Don’ts of Google XML Sitemaps

1. Don’t submit multiple sitemaps because it doesn’t help. Google already has all the information about your site structure and indexing pages, so duplicated information is unnecessary.

2. Don’t put every single page in an XML sitemap since there’s no need to waste time on this simple process (unless you want to).

3. Don’t create a sitemap for pages blocked from being indexed, such as login pages and others. You can submit a list of these URLs through Search Console, but don’t waste your time generating an XML sitemap for them.

4. Don’t put non-canonical versions either since Google will be able to find them anyway.

5. Don’t submit a sitemap if you don’t have one. Since Google is already crawling your pages without any problem, creating an XML sitemap will not help much in this case.

6. Don’t create an XML sitemap if it’s over 50MB in size since this is against Google’s basic rules.

List of XML sitemap generators

Here is a list of sitemap generators you can use with your website. While the process of generating an XML sitemap is pretty much straightforward, some of these tools are pretty helpful, so you don’t have to waste time getting help from Google.

Conclusion

As you can see, creating an XML sitemap is not a complicated process. Just remember to submit your sitemap to Google through Search Console so that crawlers can access all the pages of your site without any problem.