What Is a Sitemap and How to Create One

Bruno Mircevski

Web Hosting Expert ··Website Tips

What Is a Sitemap and How to Create One

There are plenty of things that need to be done when you’re running a website. One of those things that will definitely be worth the time you invest in it is creating a sitemap. In this article, we will go through the reasons why creating a sitemap is worth doing, what the process of creating a sitemap looks like, and what you should do once you have it.

What Is a Sitemap?


A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, images, videos, and other files on your website and the relationship between those files. A sitemap helps search engines index, find, and crawl all of your website’s content by providing a blueprint. In addition, sitemaps also provide information to search engines about which pages on your websites are important.

  • Normal XML sitemap – The most common type of sitemap is the normal XML sitemap. It’s in the form of an XML sitemap where different pages are linked to your site.

  • Image sitemap – An image sitemap helps Google find the images that are hosted on your website.

  • News sitemap – A news sitemap aids Google in finding content on sites that are approved for Google News.

  • Video sitemap – A video sitemap is used to help Google understand the video content on your site.

What Is a Sitemap

Do You Need a Sitemap?


A sitemap that is created with clear goals can be the driving factor to the success of a website, providing a vital connection between the search engines and your pages and nurturing the user experience, which is essential to the conversion process of the website. Some benefits of having a sitemap include:

  • SEO positioning – Along with plenty of other advantages, a sitemap is a crucial feature of the search engine optimization (SEO) strategy of your website. Sitemaps assist search engines in navigating a site and are a good way of letting them know that your site is available to them. If there is a complicated structure to your website, it is of utmost importance that you update your sitemap to enable effective communication with the search engine and enhance optimization.
  • Improved planning – Before you even create your website, a sitemap will help you plan it. Think about a sitemap as a building. Once you’ve created a structural layout, it is a lot easier to build the building. It’s the same way with sitemaps since they help designers understand how the pages are laid out and what the number of pages is.
  • Categorization – Sitemaps let you prioritize your web pages and put them under categories. What this means is that pages that have the most important content will be indexed and crawled faster than those who have less priority.
  • Learn about your visitors – You will be able to gain a lot of knowledge by examining your sitemap reports. There will be errors displayed that you need to fix, as well as keyword searches and traffic sources. You can attract more traffic and improve your content by using this type of information.
  • Completely free – Alongside all of the benefits a sitemap offers, you will be pleased to hear that this service is completely free. It won’t cost you a single penny to submit your sitemap to Google.

Most Common Ways to Create a Sitemap


Most websites don’t come with a sitemap prepared with them, so you will need to create one yourself. There are a few ways you can do this, including the following:

  • Manually – By building a sitemap manually, you will have the benefit of customizing your sitemap however you’d like. Keep in mind that this option is only recommended for web developers who have the required knowledge and experience.
  • Using an online sitemap generator – Online sitemap generators are platform-agnostic tools that are an excellent option. The process of creating a sitemap is simple and quick, and you won’t need to install anything extra on your site. A sitemap generator we would suggest is mysitemapgenerator since it’s fairly simple and easy to use.
  • Using CMS plugins – A lot of content management systems (CMSs) and website builders offer add-ons and tools you can use to create a sitemap. For instance, if you’re using WordPress, there is a dedicated plugin called XML Sitemaps you can use to create a sitemap pretty quickly.

How To Create a Sitemap


Now that you know the importance of a sitemap, you’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of tools that can make the task of creating a sitemap pretty easy. Below, we will look at how to create a sitemap using WordPress plugins and sitemap generators.

WordPress Plugins

A few WordPress plugins you can use to create a sitemap include Yoast, AIOSEO, and many others. The Yoast plugin and its free version offer a feature that creates an XML sitemap for your site. The first thing you need to do is download and activate the plugin. Just click on SEO on the left side of your WordPress dashboard, choose the tab Features and go to the XML sitemaps options. Make sure that the setting is set to On.

Yoast Plugin To Create a Sitemap

Another plugin you can use if you’re a WordPress user is the plugin All in One SEO or AIOSEO. Just as Yoast does, this plugin also offers premium and free versions that offer multiple SEO features. The free version of the plugin includes the sitemap generator. The plugin automatically updates Bing and Google with the latest sitemaps and provides sitemaps that are always current. Once you install and activate the AIOSEO plugin through your WordPress dashboard, you need to click on the All in One SEO section in the WordPress menu. Then click on Sitemaps and check whether the Enable Sitemaps button is turned on in order to make sure that it’s set up to automatically create sitemaps. Once you’ve done this, you’re good to go.

AIOSEO Plugin To Create a Sitemap

Sitemap Generator

Like we previously mentioned, sitemap generators are an excellent option if you want a quick and simple way to create a sitemap. One of the tools we would suggest using is the XML-Sitemaps Generator. The XML-Sitemaps generator is fairly easy and straightforward to use. As long as your site has less than 500 pages, this tool is completely free to use.

XML Sitemap Generator

The first thing you need to do is visit the site XML-sitemaps.com. Once you’re there, you need to enter the main URL of your site in the section you will find at the top of the page and click on the button Start right next to it. Then, depending on the size of your site, you will need to wait a couple of minutes for the generator to crawl your site. After it’s done, you will be provided with a summary page, where you can download your XML Sitemap or click on the View Full XML Sitemap button if you want to see how your sitemap looks like. By clicking on Download Your XML Sitemap File, you will save the sitemap to your computer. The last step is to upload the file you’ve just downloaded into the root directory of your site.

What Should You Do with the Sitemap You Created?


Once your sitemap is ready, you’re going to want to submit it to the search engines. You’re probably aware that the most important search engine to submit it to is Google, and we would also recommend submitting it to Bing. Below we’re going to look at the ways to do this.

  • Submit Sitemap to Google – The easiest way to submit your sitemap to google is through Google Search Console. The first thing you need to do is find your sitemap page on your live site since not every site has the sitemap with the same URL structure or in the same location. Then, you need to go to your Google Search Console account and locate your correct property for the exact domain you want to submit a sitemap for. Next, go to Sitemaps under Index, which you will find on the left side navigation page. If you have any outdated or old sitemaps remove them. Then, you can add your sitemap URL under Add a new sitemap and click submit. Google will verify that the sitemap can be read and found.
Submit Sitemap to Google
  • Submit Sitemap to Bing – One of the simplest ways to submit a sitemap to Bing is through the webmaster dashboard. You need to open the Bing Webmaster Tools dashboard and login with your account. To open the Sitemaps tools, click on Sitemaps on the left side of the screen. In the input box in the right corner of the screen, type in the URL of your sitemap and then click on Submit.
Submit Sitemap to Bing

Summary


Lastly, we want to provide you with some sitemap tips. If you own a site that has loads of pages, Google recommends that you break up your sitemap into multiple smaller sitemaps since sitemaps have a limit of 50k URLs.

Your sitemap’s URLs have a last modified date. We suggest that these dates should only be changed when substantial changes are made to your site or new content is added. The reason for this is that Google states it can be seen as a spammy tactic when you update dates on pages that haven’t changed.

Now that you know everything there is to know about sitemaps, you can go ahead and create your own!

Frequently Asked Questions


Why should I create a website?

There are many reasons why you should create a website if you’re an artist. You can use it to create a place where people can learn about you, talk about your art, or show off your work.

How do I choose a design for my website?

One of the most important things when creating a website for your art is the design. Even though your pieces of art might be amazing, people will leave if your site is hard to navigate. This is why it’s important that the site is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate.

Is a website on WordPress safe?

Websites on WordPress are safe, however to avoid hacking keep your website up to date.

Are WordPress plugins free?

WordPress has loads of plugins you can install, some of them are free, but some of them you will need to pay for.

Bruno Mircevski
About the Author
Bruno Mircevski

Bruno Mircevski is a web hosting services expert. He has spent years researching the niche, exploring the most diverse aspects of Shared, VPS, WordPress, Cloud Hosting, Dedicated Servers, Resellers, etc. With his extensive knowledge and experience, he can grant you meaningful insights on our blog, whether you are a beginner or a hosting pro.

View all posts by Bruno Mircevski
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