What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is nothing but a file where you can provide information about the content like pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them. Search engines like Google read this file repeatedly  to more intelligently crawl your website.

A sitemap contains the files  you think are important and should be crawled by search engine. Sitemap provides valuable information to crawlers. For example, a sitemap which contains page links, also contains additional information about page like when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and any alternate language versions of a page.

General sitemap guidelines

  1. Use consistent and fully-qualified URLs. Google will crawl your URLs exactly as listed. For example, if your site is at https://www.example.com/, don’t specify a URL as https://example.com/ (missing www) or ./mypage.html (a relative URL).
  2. Sitemap files must be UTF-8 encoded, and URLs should be escaped appropriately.
  3. As per google’s official documentation, A sitemap file shouldn’t contain more than 50,000 URLs and must not be larger than 50 MB uncompressed. So you should break up large sitemaps into smaller sitemaps. Create a single sitemap index file which contains all the individual sitemaps and submit the sitemap index file to Google rather than submitting all individual sitemaps.
    https://www.example.com/sitemap-index.xmlThis should list sitemaps shown below.
    https://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml
    https://www.example.com/category-sitemap
    .xml
    https://www.example.com/tags-sitemap
    .xml

Make your sitemap available to Google

You can use the “ping” functionality to ask google to crawl your sitemap. Send an HTTP GET request like this:

https://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

You should add your sitemap in google webmaster so that you can track the crawl status. Here are steps to add a sitemap in google webmaster.

Step 1: Login to webmaster

To login to google webmaster, click on the link https://www.google.com/webmasters/

webmaster

Step 2: Add your website to webmaster

You can add and manage multiple websites to single webmaster tool.

webmaster

Step 3: Add sitemap

Click on Sitemaps” link in left sidebar menu to add a sitemap. Add your sitemap url as shown below:

webmaster

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