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SEO: the guide to creating an XML sitemap

Best practice of any good developer, the sitemap is above all a must for natural referencing. All SEO audit software will put your site in red if you don't have one.

The sitemap is certainly a technical SEO task, but it is a concept that every marketer must master.

Let's see how this file can increase the visibility of your site and above all, how to achieve it.

SEO the guide to creating an XML sitemap
SEO the guide to creating an XML sitemap

The sitemap: definition

A sitemap simply means in English: site map.

It is a file that gathers all the pages of your website. Like a tree structure, it mainly allows search engine robots (crawlers) to identify the pages you want to index and read them.

The indexing of your pages is essential so that the content they contain is read by robots and therefore benefits your natural referencing.

Why should you use a sitemap?

When you develop a website or a blog, it is customary to natively integrate good SEO practices . Several reasons can lead you to use a sitemap.

To accelerate the natural referencing of your site

By providing your sitemap to search engines, you ensure that no page is missed. In addition, when you use the Google Search Console tool to control and optimize your natural referencing, you will be asked for the sitemap and will make it easier and faster for Google to index the pages of your site.

Finally, for sites producing new pages or articles every day, it is an effective lever for activating their rapid reading by search engines.

Based on a common protocol , all search engines are able to read a sitemap (Google, Bing, Baidu, Yandex).

To optimize the plan of its site

Creating an XML sitemap also serves as a guarantee if you have pages not accessible by direct links or a complex tree structure. Indeed, working on your sitemap is useful for finding orphan pages and linking them to the navigation.

To facilitate migration

During a site migration, your sitemap is a valuable tool for listing and finding all the URLs that compose it.

How to create your sitemap?

Follow these best practices step by step to create an effective XML sitemap.

1. Name your sitemap

If the name remains free, it is customary to keep the standard: sitemap.xml.

However, to gain an advantage over your competitors and keep your SEO strategy confidential, you can opt for more complex and less obvious names.

2. Determine the number of files

If your site has several thousand pages, you can have several sitemaps, these must be grouped together in a sitemap index file which in turn will list the URLs of the other sitemap files. This will also allow you to prioritize which pages you want indexed upon exiting your site.

These subcategories are also effective for large e-commerce sites. By segmenting a sitemap by type of page (product pages, editorial articles, content pages), the SEO expert can thus check the performance of these “categories” of content separately. Finally, it is unlikely that you will exceed the maximum size, which is 50,000 URLs per sitemap (and 50,000 sitemap files per Indexsitemap, with a limit of 50 MB for your files in total).



3. Create / code your file

You have two options for making a sitemap:

  • In text file if your site structure is very simple
  • or in XML language (it is a computer language in the same way as HTML.)

XML is essential if you want to index videos and images, if you manage a multilingual site or if you have chosen to use an Indexsitemap.

You will need to use UTF-8 file encoding and then add your site's URLs as hyperlinks. It is advisable to use the exact URLs of your site, including if the latter is in https. So remember to put all your URLs with the right writing.

The order of the URLs is not important, except to find it yourself. The important thing is that your sitemap contains all of your links.

Finally, indicate the date of last modification with the tag <lastmod>

If you encounter difficulties in creating your sitemap file, do not hesitate to call on a professional freelancer .

4. Submit your file in Google Search Console

Finally, submit your XML sitemap file in your Google Search Console account . This allows you to anticipate the first crawl of your pages.

Come back later to your account to analyze your sitemap:

  • Are any URLs blocked?
  • Do you have unindexed pages?
  • Do URLs lead to 404 errors?

Make sure to correct these errors quickly so as not to be penalized the next time the crawlers pass.

The update frequency depends on the volume of content you produce. The best thing is to have a tool that automatically and dynamically updates your sitemap.

Finally, be aware that it is possible to code a sitemap directly by hand, but you will save time by using a tool ( Web-site-map , xml-sitemaps etc…) or a plugin compatible with your CMS.

My name is Duc "JOSEF" Le and I work in Digital Marketing at Mageplaza and BlogAvada. Mageplaza offers a comprehensive collection of over 230 extensions that are designed to work seamlessly with the latest versions of Magento 2 (Adobe Commerce). Meanwhile, BlogAvada is a blog that serves as a platform for sharing information related to websites, mobile apps, e-commerce, digital marketing, and other related topics. I encourage you to visit our websites to learn more about what we have to offer.

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