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What is a sitemap? sitemap.xml

A sitemap is a file that compiles the list of web pages that make up a website, and provides information about the different files on the website, as well as the relationships between them. They are especially useful for search engine crawlers to index the website more efficiently.

In a few words, a sitemap file is saved as sitemap.xml and is usually hosted in the root of the website, for example: webdeejemplo.com/sitemap.xml, but it is not a mandatory standard. There is also the possibility, among other options, to use sitemap as a .html file (sitemap.html) but the most popular because of its importance for SEO is: sitemap.xml.

1. Is a sitemap necessary?

Yes, having a sitemap is always recommended and very valuable. It doesn’t matter if we think we have a small website (less than 500 pages), if you don’t have many multimedia files (images and videos) on your website or if your internal linking is perfect… it is vital for search engine spiders so that the software can index the website correctly.

That said, let’s define two scenarios when adding this file is mandatory; if you don’t include it in these situations, your SEO strategy would be seriously affected:

  • When you have a very large website. Since it is very possible that web crawlers may overlook some of the new pages (and their content) that you have recently added to your site or may not index those that have been recently updated.
  • If it is a new or recently created site. It will have few external back links (backlinks) and this makes it more difficult for web crawlers to detect your pages. The sitemap will accelerate this indexing process.

2. Example of sitemap.xml

Let’s see a very simple example so you can get an idea of what a sitemap.xml file looks like. You can see its general structure and in this case, it only states the location of a URL and update date:

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

3. How to create a sitemap?

You can create a sitemap with the help of various tools, let’s see the most common ways to include a sitemap:

  • Create it from CMS automatically. If you use some kind of CMS (content management system) it is very likely that it has already created it automatically. But you have to make sure the settings will work for you; You could use WordPress plugins such as Yoast SEO or Better WordPress Google XML Sitemaps.
  • Create it manually. If you do it yourself, you can create a customized file; you only need a plain text editor such as Windows Notepad or Nano (Linux and macOS). Of course, you have to follow the proper syntax that you can check in The Sitemaps protocol.
  • Generate it automatically (online or with an application). There are online tools with which you can generate the sitemap.xl without experience or installing anything, as is the case of XML-sitemaps.com. They can also be generated with applications specialized in these tasks, such as GSiteCrawler or Sitemap Generator.