If you’re a digital marketer chances are that you already know about sitemaps but if have a build a website it’s important you create a sitemap. A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs in the sitemap. The sitemap allows you to add additional information about a URL as when it was updated, how often it changes and a URLs relation with the site.

Why do you need a sitemap?

It’s important to have an XML sitemap from an SEO perspective as unlike human beings search engines can’t read each page on your site and index them into their directory. Search engines like Google use a program called spider which crawls your site to identify all the pages available for indexing. This allows search engines crawl sites more intelligently.  Sitemaps also useful to document the structure of the site most site usually maintain a HTML and an XML version of the site.

Where should you place sitemap ideally?

Sitemap has to be ideally placed in the root directory of your HTML server. For example http://www.yourcompany.com/sitemap.xml.

All URLs listed in the Sitemap must reside on the same host as the Sitemap. For instance, if your Sitemap is located at http://www.yourcompany.com/sitemap.xml, it can’t include URLs from http://example.yourcompany.com. If the Sitemap is located at http://www.yourcompany.com/myfolder/sitemap.xml, it can’t include URLs from http://www.yourcompany.com.

How many URLs can sitemap include?

Sitemaps can’t be larger than 10 MB in file size and can contain a maximum of 50,000 URLs. If your site includes more than 50,000 URLs or exceeds 10 MB file size it’s recommended that you create sitemap index file. Sitemap index file can have up to 1,000 sitemaps and should not exceed 10 MB file size it’s recommended that you use gzip compression if the files exceed in size.

How do I create a sitemap?

Sitemap usually lists all the URLs on the site. Below is an example of a sitemap with a small number of URLs. You can also auto-generate sitemap with the help of XML sitemap generators like XML-Sitemaps.com, xmlsitemapgenerator.org, sitemapdoc.com and more.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<urlset xmlns="http://www.yourcompany.com/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.yourcompany.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>

      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

      <priority>0.8</priority>

   </url>

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.yourcompany.com/catalog?item=12&amp;desc=vacation_hawaii</loc>

      <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>

   </url>

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.yourcompany.com/catalog?item=73&amp;desc=vacation_new_zealand</loc>

      <lastmod>2004-12-23</lastmod>

      <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>

   </url>

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.yourcompany.com/catalog?item=74&amp;desc=vacation_newfoundland</loc>

      <lastmod>2004-12-23T18:00:15+00:00</lastmod>

      <priority>0.3</priority>

   </url>

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.yourcompany.com/catalog?item=83&amp;desc=vacation_usa</loc>

      <lastmod>2004-11-23</lastmod>

   </url>

</urlset>

Sitemaps for HTTP & HTTPs versions?

If you have both HTTP & HTTPS versions of the site only list XML sitemap for one version of the site. Submitting sitemaps for multiple versions will only confuse the crawler.

What should you do after creating the sitemap?

After creating the sitemaps you need to submit them to search engine. In the case of Google, you need to submit them on Google Search Console. If you don’t have an existing account create an account for submitting the sitemap. The search console account will track your site traffic and also update in case of crawling errors.

 Specifying the location in robot.txt file

 A robots.txt is a file that’s placed at the root of your site and indicates those parts of your site that should not be indexed by the crawlers. You can specify the location of the Sitemap using a robots.txt file.

Still have more questions on sitemap? We recommend that you visit sitemaps.org for more details on the subject.