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What Is a Sitemap? Web site Sitemaps Defined

What Is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is a file that lists all of the essential pages on a web site. It guides search engines like google in figuring out which pages to incorporate of their index.

Having a sitemap is a crucial a part of website positioning. Sitemaps assist Google uncover your pages sooner and extra successfully. 

Forms of Web site Sitemaps

There are two forms of sitemaps: 

  • XML sitemaps: sitemaps written in a selected format designed for search engine crawlers
  • HTML sitemaps: sitemaps that appear to be common pages and assist customers navigate the web site

Let’s take a better take a look at every of those two sorts. 

XML Sitemaps

XML sitemaps are the popular format of sitemaps for search engines like google, comparable to Google. 

They carry three major sorts of knowledge for search engines like google:

  1. The record of all of the URLs you need to have listed
  2. The “lastmod” attribute that informs when the URLs had been final up to date
  3. The “hreflang” attribute that informs concerning the native variants of the URLs

They give the impression of being one thing like this:

XML sitemap

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language. It’s a format that makes it simple for search engine crawlers to learn a sitemap.

Google says sitemaps are appropriate for big web sites, web sites with intensive archives, or new web sites with few hyperlinks.

Nevertheless, each web site can profit from having an XML sitemap. There are actually no downsides to having one. And it solely takes a couple of minutes to create one.

If you wish to study extra about XML sitemaps, listed here are some additional sources:

HTML Sitemaps

HTML sitemaps was once a well-liked means to enhance a web site’s navigation and supply hyperlinks to all of your pages in a single place.

Here is an instance of an HTML sitemap by H&M Group:

HTML sitemap by H&M Group

As you may see, it’s an ordinary web page with hyperlinks to numerous pages organized in a hierarchical means.

Though HTML sitemaps aren’t that frequent anymore, some voices within the website positioning neighborhood nonetheless say they’re a should.  

The actual fact is: 

HTML sitemaps can enhance your inner linking and supply one other layer of navigation for complicated web sites with many pages.

Nevertheless, do not use an HTML sitemap as a alternative for good web site navigation components (comparable to menus, footer hyperlinks, breadcrumbs, classes, and so forth.). 

As John Mueller, Google Search Advocate, stated on Mastodon:

“When you really feel the necessity for an HTML sitemap, spend the time enhancing your web site’s structure as an alternative.”

In different phrases, customers mustn’t want a sitemap to navigate your web site. 

Observe: Once we discuss sitemaps within the context of website positioning, we normally imply XML sitemaps. Any further, we’ll discuss XML sitemaps on this information. 

How one can Discover a Sitemap

Listed here are some efficient methods to discover a sitemap on a web site:

Guide Test

The best option to discover an XML sitemap is to search for it manually. Mostly, a web site sitemap shall be situated at this URL deal with:

Very often—particularly if the web site makes use of WordPress and the Yoast website positioning plugin—you will be redirected to a sitemap index (/sitemap_index.xml).

In that case, it’s going to appear to be this:

sitemap index

As you may see, a sitemap index is a straightforward file that lists all of the sitemaps of a web site. (Sure, there could be a number of sitemaps.) 

To see the precise sitemap, simply click on the hyperlink to the precise sitemap within the index.

Search Operators

Search operators are particular phrases or symbols you may add to a search question to return extra particular outcomes.

Listed here are some search operators you should utilize to discover a sitemap on a web site:

  • “web filetype:xml”
  • “web inurl:sitemap”
  • “web intitle:sitemap”

You should utilize these operators in all the favored search engines like google, comparable to Google, Bing, or Yahoo. 

Merely enter the operator into the search bar and change “” with the precise web site’s deal with. 

search operator in google

The search outcomes ought to return the placement of the web site sitemap if it exists and the search engine you’re utilizing has listed it.

The search results

Google Search Console

If in case you have entry to a web site’s Google Search Console, there’s an opportunity the sitemap has been submitted there.

Head to the “Sitemaps” report within the “Indexing” part of the left menu.

Sitemaps in google search console

Right here, you will see a piece known as “Submitted sitemaps.” If somebody has submitted an XML sitemap earlier than, you will discover its URL within the record.

Submitted sitemaps in google search console

Observe: We’ll discuss submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console later on this information. 


Robots.txt is a web site file that tells search engine crawlers which sections of the web site to crawl and which to keep away from. 

It is best to place it within the root folder of your web site:

If the robots.txt file follows finest practices, it’s going to hyperlink to the web site sitemap. Simply seek for “sitemap” throughout the robots.txt doc.

The part linking to a sitemap will look one thing like this:

section linking to a sitemap

When you’ve tried all of the methods talked about above and could not find your XML sitemap, your web site in all probability does not have one.In that case, learn our information to XML sitemaps to learn to create a sitemap for a web site. Or use a sitemap generator

How one can Evaluation Your Sitemap for Points

To make sure your sitemap is ready up appropriately, you should utilize a web site auditing instrument like Semrush’s Web site Audit. The instrument will crawl your web site (much like the way in which Googlebot does) and detect any technical website positioning points. 

Here is what the instrument’s dashboard appears to be like like:

Site Audit dashboard

You possibly can create a free account (no bank card wanted) and crawl as much as 100 pages inside minutes.  

As soon as you’ve got signed up, establishing the primary crawl is pretty simple:

  1. Go to “Initiatives” and create your first mission—simply enter your area and the title of the mission.
  2. Go to the Web site Audit instrument and choose your area by clicking the enter subject.
  3. Configure fundamental settings within the “Web site Audit Settings” window that may pop up. When you’re uncertain about one thing, this detailed setup information will allow you to. 
  4. Whenever you’re performed, hit the “Begin Web site Audit” button.

When you’ve run an audit with the instrument, you’ll have the ability to overview any web site errors below the “Points” tab.

Issues tab highlighted

Simply seek for “sitemap.” You may get an inventory of points associated to your sitemap.xml file.

list of issues related to your sitemap.xml file

Some frequent sitemap-related points embrace the next:

  • Incorrect pages present in a sitemap: Your sitemap accommodates pages that aren’t presupposed to be in a sitemap (like pages with redirects or pages that aren’t canonical)
  • Sitemap has format errors: There are format errors (like lacking XML tags) in your sitemap file
  • Sitemap recordsdata are too giant: Your sitemap exceeds Google’s dimension restrict (greater than 50 MB or greater than 50,000 URLs) 

Whenever you click on the hyperlink with the variety of affected pages, you will see a full record of affected pages.

full list of affected pages

You too can click on the “Why and easy methods to repair it” hyperlink subsequent to every kind of challenge. 

It will open a modal window with additional clarification of the difficulty and tips about easy methods to repair the issue. 

Why and how to fix it tabs

How one can Submit and Test a Sitemap with Google

Submitting your XML sitemap to Google is likely one of the website positioning finest practices. That’s primarily for 2 causes:

  1. It will probably velocity up the method of Google discovering your sitemap
  2. It will probably allow you to detect points along with your sitemap

You possibly can submit your sitemap in Google Search Console

(If you do not have an account but, learn our detailed information on easy methods to arrange Google Search Console to your web site.) 

To submit your sitemap, go to the “Sitemaps” report. You may discover it within the “Indexing” part of the left menu.

navigate to Sitemaps in google search console

There, enter the URL of your sitemap within the “Add a brand new sitemap” part. And click on the “Submit” button.

Submit a new sitemap

After you’ve got submitted your sitemap, you will get a message like this:

sitemap submitted successfully message

For a extra in-depth information, learn our put up on easy methods to submit a sitemap to Google.

You possibly can monitor the standing of your sitemap anytime you go to the report. If there is a inexperienced “Success” message, you are all good.

If there’s a difficulty along with your sitemap, you will see a purple “Could not fetch” or “Has errors” standing. On this case, the report will present an in depth clarification of what went incorrect and how one can repair it.

You possibly can examine the total record of potential errors and easy methods to repair them in Google’s information to the “Sitemaps” report

Maintain Studying

Sitemaps are an essential side of website positioning. However they’re not the one factor that issues. 

Learn our information to conducting a technical website positioning audit to find out about different technical elements of website positioning you must take note of. 



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