What Is a Sitemap? The Ultimate Guide to Sitemaps

What Is a Sitemap?

A sitemap is like a map for a website that tells search engines like Google to find your website content.  It also sends signals to search engines about which URLs or resources we want to index, like your pages, videos, images and more.

Types Of Sitemaps.

There are two types of sitemaps: HTML and XML. You can use both sitemaps according to your need and make different sitemaps for different resources, like an Image Sitemap and Video Sitemap.

What are XML sitemaps?

The XML sitemap is the most popular type of sitemap, created for search engines to easily understand all your website content. XML sitemap provides the most information about your URLs.

The most common location for an XML sitemap is: domainname.com/sitemap.xml like we have https://www.theseotoday.com/sitemap.xml (Remember we are using blogger so our sitemap may look different than yours)

Why use XML Sitemap?

  • XML sitemap helps search engines crawl your website more efficiently by providing metadata about each page.
  • XML sitemap provides better control over crawling with page priority.
  • XML sitemap provides descriptive info about your website URLs (like the last update and how often we modify them).

Bruce Clay IN HTML Sitemap
Bruce Clay IN HTML Sitemap

What is HTML Sitemap?

An HTML sitemap is a visual representation of your website URLs for human users to quickly navigate to throw all your website pages.

What Google Says about HTML Sitemap:

An HTML sitemap is intended for users of your site. Generally, this type of sitemap provides links to the pages in your site and may provide descriptions of those pages.

What Semrush Says About HTML Sitemap:

An HTML (hypertext markup language) sitemap includes every page on your website think of it as a table of contents.

What Search Engine Journal Says About HTML Sitemap:

HTML sitemaps ostensibly serve website visitors. The sitemaps include every page on the website – from the main pages to lower-level pages and can be thought of as a well-organized table of content.


Who Needs a Sitemap?

You might need a sitemap for your website if you have a large site, if your site is new and has few backlinks and if your site has a lot of content like video, images or more.

How do I create a sitemap for my website?

How do I create a sitemap for my website?

There are many ways to create a sitemap for your website, here are some ways you can use it as a website owner and beginner.
  • Use Sitemap Generator Tool
  • Create Sitemap Manually
  • Use Plugin
  • Hire a Professional

Use Sitemap Generator Tool

This involves using an online tool that can crawl your website and automatically generate a sitemap. Although there are multiple tools available for generating a sitemap we recommend using XML-Sitemaps.com and Screaming Frog.

Create Sitemap Manually

You can use a text editor or spreadsheet software to manually list all the pages on your website in a hierarchical format. Save this list as an XML file and upload it to your website.

Use a CMS Plugin

If your website is built on a CMS like WordPress, you can use a plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to generate a sitemap automatically.

Hire a Professional

If you're uncomfortable building a sitemap, you can hire a web developer or SEO specialist to create one for you.

Regardless of the method you choose, submitting your sitemap to search engines like Google and Bing using their webmaster tools is crucial for the effective crawling and indexing of your website, which can improve its visibility in search engine results.

Sitemap Best Practices

Sitemap Best Practices

Sitemap.org made some guidelines for creating a sitemap file by following these best practices, you can ensure that your sitemaps are effective in helping search engines understand and index your website's pages, ultimately improving your visibility in search results.

The most ignore best practices are related to the sitemap size limits, location, and using URLs in the sitemap.

Sitemap Size Limits

A sitemap should not exceed 50MB (uncompressed) or contain more than 50,000 URLs. If your sitemap is larger, split it into multiple sitemaps or create a sitemap index file.

Sitemap File Encoding and Location

Sitemaps must be UTF-8 encoded. Host your sitemaps anywhere on your site, but placing them in the root directory is recommended for better visibility.

Referenced URLs' Properties

Use fully-qualified, absolute URLs in your sitemaps. Specify the complete URL (including the domain) rather than using relative URLs. This helps search engines crawl your pages correctly.

Include Relevant URLs

Include the URLs in your sitemap that you want to see in search results. Google generally displays canonical URLs, so make sure to include those.

If you have different URLs for mobile and desktop versions, consider pointing to only one version or annotating the URLs to indicate the different versions.
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