While you’re learning SEO or practicing the same as a beginner, you might get wired with some terms and jargon. One of such jargon is ‘XML Sitemap’. It’s not uncommon that you’ll encounter this term many times, even in your early day career in SEO.
To some extend, it’s assumed that XML sitemap is a highly technical aspect. However, that’s not the fact. It’s neither a difficult task to create an XML sitemap nor to submit the same to Google.
Be assured that after reading this post, you can effortlessly create XML sitemaps for your website just within a couple of minutes.
I think, I should dig deep. My objective is to help learners of all levels in getting everything relevant to their query. However, if you’re an advanced learner, you may not require everything in details. That’s well. You can skip any section as you wish.
I’m sharing you everything you should know about XML sitemap along with the easy steps in creating sitemaps for your website. Structurally, you’re going to learn XML sitemap through the following steps:
- What is an XML sitemap
- Why do you require XML sitemap
- Do you need creating an XML sitemap
- How to create an XML sitemap
- How to submit a sitemap to Google
- Additional notes
What is an XML Sitemap?
XML stands for extensive markup language and a sitemap is a structured listing of pages of a website. XML is a coding system that helps digitally share structured data that can be readable by both human beings and machines. An XML sitemap is a digital file that contains the structural listing and outlines of your webpages. It’s written in an extensive markup language.
Being a webmaster or an SEO executive, you can structurally list the pages of your site with no difficulty. You can classify your pages as product pages, blog posts, support information, images, videos etc as the site content is concerned. Similarly, you can categorically and sub-categorically divide your blog posts or product pages. You can do it manually. A manual sitemap that is added to your site can help your visitors to easily find the resources they are looking for.
For a large websites with many thousand pages, creating a manual sitemap, is however, a difficult task. Manual sitemaps are also not readable by crawlers like Google Boots. Hence, their is the requirement of an XML sitemaps.
Why Do You Require XML Sitemaps?
You require a number of XML sitemaps to help search crawlers like Google Boots in systematically finding your pages, discovering the internal relationship of pages and categorically indexing them in a searchable index. XML sitemaps also help web crawlers in instantly finding a change or an update to a webpage.
While it’s not always easy to separately submit all pages of a website with relevant structured information to search engines and informing periodically about the page updates, XML sitemaps help webmaster in easing their task.
Do You Need Creating XML Sitemap for Your Website?
No, webmasters of all websites don’t really need to create sitemaps for their websites. Websites with few hundreds pages are crawled seamlessly and quickly by search crawlers. But web crawlers can’t easily crawl all the valid pages and frequent updates of large websites with thousands of pages. In such cases, XML sitemaps play very important roles. However, webmasters of small websites should also create and submit sitemaps to Google and other search engines. It’ll help them in getting their pages indexed quickly. It’s not uncommon that Google may takes weeks to index a new page or update the change to a page in its database. This is the reason, why you should create and submit sitemaps for your site to Google even if your website is not huge.
How to Create an XML Sitemap?
This is the central concern of this post. Hence, I’m making it elaborate. I’m careful enough that you’ll have no difficulty in getting the technique. I’m repeating again, it’s not really a difficult task. You just need some basic ideas about creating an XML sitemap and implementing the same for your site.
Basics of XML Sitemaps
Look at the example bellow. It’s a simple XML sitemap for a single page of a site.
?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2019-07-06</lastmod> <changefreq>daily</changefreq> <priority>0.8</priority> </url> </urlset>
Let me tell you everything related to the above example of a sitemap so that you can easily understand the structure of an XNL sitemap.
- The first two rows of the syntax will be unchanged for each XML sitemap. The latest XML version is 1.0 and standard encoding system that is acceptable is UTF-8. The second row contain information regarding the approved sitemap format. Being a beginner, you should copy and paste this two row exactly.
- The next row is about where the page is located on your website. Enter the complete URL, such as, <loc>http://www.example.com/page-name</loc>.
- In the next row, inform search engines the date when the page was last modified. Enter the latest date of updating the page, such as, <lastmod>2019-07-06T13:52:58</lastmod>.
- Next, inform the frequency the page is changed/modified: Enter the average frequency you update the pages, such as, <changefreq>daily</changefreq>.
- Next, inform the priority the page has in relationship to other pages on the site. The priority scale is in between 0.1 to 1.0, while 0.1 is the lowest and 1.0 is the highest priority. Enter the average priority of a page for search engine crawling, such as, <priority>0.8</priority>.
How to Create XML Sitemap for Your WordPress Site?
You’re aware that all CMS websites come with plugin integrations. For example, if you’ve a website on WordPress, you need to install a plugin to create a XML sitemap. There are many fantastic plugins for WordPress to help you in complete SEO activities including creating sitemaps of your site and submitting the same to Google. The top performers are All in One SEO and Yoast SEO. Both have common features. You just need to install anyone and activate the same for your site with proper setting in accordance to your requirement.
In order to properly set your sitemap for your WordPress site, you need to:
- Click on the installed SEO plugin
- Select ‘XML sitemap’ from the menu bar
- Read the documentation on setting
- Complete the setting
- Click on ‘Update Sitemap’
Now your sitemaps are created and will be automatically submitted to search engines. If you need to view your sitemaps in order to be assured that those are created properly, you may click on ‘view your sitemaps’ option. You can also manually submit the sitemaps to Google.
How to Create XML Sitemap for Your Scratch Website?
If your site is made out of the scratch, no plugin will come in your way. In this case, either you need to create XML sitemaps manually or by using an sitemap generating tool like xml-sitemaps.com. While you are creating an sitemap by a sitemap generating tool, you just need to submitting your full website URL to the tool. Within minutes your sitemap will be generated. You can download it and if you want, you can also make preferred changes to it. If you are a beginner, I suggest you not to make any changes.
If you are interested in creating manual sitemaps for your site, just copy the syntax given bellow and edit it as you require in a notepad application.
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?> <urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"> <url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2019-07-07</lastmod> <changefreq>weekly</changefreq> <priority>0.7</priority>
<loc>http://www.example.com/page?desc=top-services</loc> <lastmod>2019-07-07</lastmod> <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
<loc>http://www.example.com/page?desc=digital-marketing</loc> <lastmod>2019-07-05T18:00:15+00:00</lastmod> <priority>0.5</priority>
<loc>http://www.example.com/page?desc=web-development</loc> <lastmod>2019-06-23</lastmod> </url> </urlset>
Creating Sitemap for DIY Websites Like Wix of Shopify
If you’ve a website hosted at a website builder (hosted platform) like Wix or Square-space or Shopify, you certainly don’t bother about creating and submitting your sitemaps to search engines. Your sitemaps will be created and submitted to search engines automatically. You can’t changes such sitemaps.
How to Submit Sitemaps to Google?
If you are using am SEO plugin for your CMS site like WordPress or your site is on a hosted platform like Shopify, you generally don’t need to submit your sitemap to any search engine. The processes will be done automatically. However, in order to make indexing processes faster, you can do it manually.
If your website is made out of scratch, you definitely need to submit your sitemaps to Google so that you can avail the benefit of quick and complete indexing of your pages.
In order to successfully submit your sitemaps to Google, follow the seven simple steps:
- Paste or upload your complete sitemap syntax into the domain root folder of your website and save the changes. Webmasters of CMS and DIY websites don’t need to follow this step.
- Find your sitemap paths by visiting the sitemap page of your website. The URL of your sitemaps page is – your-domain-name/sitemap.xml. For example, if your domain name is example.com, your sitemap URL is example.com/sitemap.xml. You can find all your sitemap paths there
- Login to your Google Search Console account.
- Click on the ‘Sitemaps’ menu on the menu bar at the left.
- Copy the second part of of your sitemap paths, paste them on the specified space in the ‘Sitemaps’ page of your Search Console account and click on ‘Submit’ button one by one.
- Be ensured that your sitemaps have no error. If there is any error, you’ll be prompted by Google. Inspect the error and resolve it, if you can. Otherwise ask me to help you in resolving the issue by mentioning details in the comment or emailing the same to me.
- If all your sitemaps are submitted successfully to Google, be assured that all of your desired pages will be indexed quickly by Google.
In addition to common XML sitemaps, you can also create separate sitemaps for images, videos and news for Google. Whatever may be your sitemap extension, none one is difficult to generate. Just look at the following sitemap paths for different extensions:
If you are using a CMS plugin, select the proper type of your post/page to include in your sitemaps. If your website is developed out of scratch, edit your sitemap to include all the extensions.
In case, you face any difficulty in generating error-free sitemaps for your website, please feel free to ask me for help.