What is the XML sitemap?
It is a document formed from the list of web pages intended for search engines. We can compare it to the phone book: it tells search engines what content is on the website and how to find it. You can also give them some optional information – the date of the last content update or its relative importance.
XML sitemaps are very useful for search engines, as they give you a map of all the content available on the website. They serve as the starting point during the first exploration of the site as well as to quickly discover new content.
It should be mentioned that there are differences between the XML sitemap and the “regular” sitemaps (also called “HTML sitemaps”). The latter mentioned are intended for visitors while the XML files are targeted to search engines.
Why should the XML sitemap interest you?
The XML sitemap helps search engines find the content on your website and informs them about new or updated content. Whenever possible it is recommended to implement it, especially for large sites (with more than 500 pages).
What does the XML sitemap look like?
The XML sitemap is search engine friendly so it is written in the language that computers understand: XML. However, it is also understandable to humans. We will see it in the following example:
Where to put the XML sitemap?
Like all pages, the XML sitemap also has its own URL. Usually it is /sitemap.xml and it is recommended to follow this convention to make it easier for search engines to find the file.
If for some reason this location or name cannot be used, you can choose others, but they should be mentioned in the robots.txt file via the directive:
Does the XML sitemap have any limits?
Yes, there are some limitations to keep in mind:
A sitemap should not contain more than 50,000 URLs.
The size of an uncompressed site map should not exceed 50 MB.
If your XML sitemap does not fit within these limits, you need to divide it into several smaller files and create a sitemap index.
What is the XML sitemap index?
If you exceed the limits for the sitemap, you need to break it up into several smaller maps and index these maps. It is an individual file that includes all the maps on your website.