Knowledge Base


Enhance Experience


Create XML Sitemap with SEO Best Practices

Build your Google XML Sitemap Index following all Best Practices

James Gibbons
XML Sitemap with SEO Hero Image

Are you struggling to get your website indexed by search engines? Do you want to improve your website's search engine visibility? If yes, you may miss out on the importance of XML sitemaps. XML sitemaps can play a crucial role in improving your website's SEO.

An XML sitemap is a blueprint of your website's structure, helping search engines understand and navigate your content efficiently.

However, even today, many websites have not implemented an XML sitemap correctly. Incorrect use leads to indexing issues, poor search engine visibility, and missed SEO opportunities.

In this blog, we will learn the importance of XML sitemaps for SEO and how to create and optimize them for maximum impact. Whether you're a web developer or a website owner, this guide will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of XML sitemaps and how to use them effectively to improve your website's SEO.

Quattr Scores

of this article

Keyword Relevance


Content Quality


Check your content's score now!

What is XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a website file that is not visible to users but helps search engines discover the pages of a website to include in their index.

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, which makes it easier for search engines to read and parse data, as it allows for easy storage of URLs.

Google introduced XML sitemap in 2005, and other leading search engines like Yahoo and Bing followed shortly after. A sitemap aids search engines in locating URLs on your website, but it does not guarantee that everything in your sitemap will be scanned and indexed.

Having an XML sitemap is not necessarily a requirement for a website because it does not influence user experience.

However, Sitemap and SEO are related. Sitemap can help boost your SEO. It allows search engines to index new or updated pages on a website quickly. It can further help improve the visibility of a website and its rankings on search engine results pages.

What Does XML Sitemap Look Like?

An XML sitemap is a file that contains a list of all the URLs of a website, organized in a structured format that search engines can easily understand. Here's an example of how an XML sitemap may look like

How XML Sitemap Look Like
How XML Sitemap Look Like

XML Sitemap uses a series of tags that help you define different elements. Here are the tags used in the XML sitemap and their purpose.

Tag Function
urlset (Required) It is the root element that contains all the URLs of the website.
url (Required) This tag represents a single URL in the sitemap; each URL is enclosed in and tags.
loc (Required) It contains the URL of the page on the website. Its length can be a maximum of 2048 characters.
lastmod (Optional) This tag indicates the last modification date of the URL.
changefreq (Optional) tag specifies how often the page is expected to change. You can set it as always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and never.
priority (Optional) It represents the priority of the URL in relation to other URLs on the website, with a value between 0.0 and 1.0.

Pros & Cons of XML Sitemaps

There are several advantages & disadvantages of using an XML sitemap for your website.

Benefits of Using XML Sitemaps

1. XML sitemaps help search engines crawl and index your website's pages more efficiently, improving your site's visibility in search results.

2. By providing a clear layout of your website's architecture, XML sitemaps make it easier for visitors to navigate and find the information they need.

3. XML sitemaps can be updated easily whenever you add new pages or change your website's structure, ensuring that search engines invariably have the most up-to-date information.

4. XML sitemaps can provide valuable insights into your website's performance, such as which pages are getting the most traffic and which are being ignored by search engines. It can help identify and fix any errors or issues with your website's URLs, such as broken links or duplicate content.

5. XML sitemaps are supported by all major search engines, making them a reliable tool for improving your website's search engine optimization.

Limitations of XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps can help search engines understand your website structure and index its pages. However, there are certain limitations to XML sitemaps.

1. Google has imposed a limit for XML sitemaps to 50MB or 50000 URLs. For those websites with many products, multiple XML files must be created and listed in a sitemap index file, and the index file can be submitted.

2. Due to the site’s navigational structure, issues may prevent the spider from crawling the relevant pages. As a result, those pages may not be included in the search engine’s algorithms for page rank.

3. XML sitemap can help get your pages indexed, but it alone can not guarantee SERP rankings. The purpose of an XML sitemap is to make it easier for Googlebot to crawl and index your pages. While this can indirectly benefit your website's search rankings by helping to ensure that all of your pages are properly indexed, it is not a direct ranking factor.

4. Updating or creating a new sitemap every time a URL changes or a new page is added can take time and effort. If these changes are not consistently updated, search engines may end up with inaccurate information, hindering your SEO efforts.

5. If your XML sitemap is inaccurate or incomplete, this can lead to misleading data about your website's performance in search results.

Types of XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps are of different types, and each type can provide additional information to search engines and meet specific website needs.

Since Google has a restriction on the number of URLs per sitemap, it is advised to use & submit multiple sitemaps.

Before we dive into the different types of sitemaps, let us understand the two broad categories.

1. Static XML Sitemaps

A static sitemap is a page on a website that lists all of the pages within that website. It is created manually and usually contains links to every page on the site.

2. Dynamic Sitemaps

A dynamic XML sitemap is a sitemap that is automatically updated to reflect changes to a website's structure or content. This type of sitemap can be generated using a content management system (CMS) or a custom script that extracts data from a website's database or file system.

The most common types of XML sitemaps are

Image Sitemap

An image sitemap is an XML file listing all images on a website. It informs search engines which images to include in their index and how to display them. Image sitemaps can also provide additional information about the images, such as captions and copyright information.

If you website is image heavy and you provide valuable insights via images & infographics, include an image sitemap.

You can also use Image schema markup to call out image properties to search engines. Image structured data code provides information to search engine crawlers about an image's content, context, and properties.

You can use both techniques to optimize your images for search engines.

Video Sitemap

A Video Sitemap is an XML file used to help bots better understand video content on a website. It provides information about each video and its location on the website. This helps search engines to understand the content of the videos and display them in search results.

You can include some tags for the videos to be featured in the SERPs: <url>, <loc>, <video:video>, <video:thumbnail_loc>, <video:title>, <video:description>, <video:content_loc> and <video:player_loc>.

Video sitemaps are particularly useful for websites with many videos, as they make it easier for search engines to crawl and index them.

Learn more about video sitemaps.

News Sitemap

A news sitemap is an XML file listing all news articles on a website. It provides information such as the article title, publication date, and author name.

News sitemaps designed for sites registered with Google News and contains up to 1,000 URLs of news articles published within the last two days. Thumbnails for the articles can be specified using image or og:image.

Mobile Sitemap

A mobile XML sitemap lists all the pages on a website optimized for mobile devices. It can be beneficial to build a website with unique URLs designed explicitly for feature phones. With a mobile sitemap, you can help search engine crawlers find, index, and understand the content of feature phone pages on your website.

Read more about the mobile sitemap.

Do you Need an XML Sitemap?

XML sitemaps are used to help search engines crawl and index a website's pages more efficiently. While having an XML sitemap can benefit some websites, it is debatable whether it is necessary for all websites.

According to Google, an XML sitemap can benefit websites, particularly those large, new, or with millions/billions of URLs. It can ensure all your pages are indexed, and your site ranks higher in search engine results.

Let's say you have an e-commerce website that sells shoes. You have a lot of product pages, category pages, and blog posts. Without an XML sitemap, search engines may not be able to crawl and index all of your pages, which means that some pages may not appear in search results.

By submitting an XML sitemap, you are ensuring that all of your pages are crawled and indexed, which can improve your SEO and help potential customers find your website. This is particularly helpful if you frequently add new products or blog posts to your website.

Adding an XML sitemap is not necessary for every website. Your website will work properly even if you do not have a sitemap, and search engines will crawl and index your page. Google has stated that if your website is small (<500 URL) and is linked internally, you do not need an XML sitemap.

How to Create an XML Sitemap

XML sitemaps are particularly effective in improving search engine optimization. Various methods can be utilized for creating a sitemap, such as employing a content management system (CMS), crafting one manually, or utilizing a third-party tool.

Creating an XML Sitemap Using your CMS

Creating a sitemap for your website can seem daunting, but with WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin, you can quickly generate and upload one automatically. Let us look at how to use Yoast SEO to create and upload sitemaps for your WordPress website.

Creating XML Sitemap on WordPress

Creating a sitemap for your website can seem daunting, but with WordPress and the Yoast SEO plugin, you can quickly generate and upload one automatically. Let us look at how to use Yoast SEO to create and upload sitemaps for your WordPress website.

1. Install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress website.

2. Go to the Yoast SEO plugin dashboard in the WordPress admin area.

3. Click on the "Features" tab and enable the "XML Sitemaps" feature.

4. To configure the settings, click the question mark icon next to the "XML Sitemaps" feature.

5. Review the default settings or make changes as needed.

6. Save the changes.

7. Click on "Question mark" icon next to the "XML Sitemaps" feature again, and then click on the "See the XML sitemap" link.

8. Copy the sitemap URL that appears on the next page.

9. Submit the sitemap URL to search engines via their webmaster tools, such as Google Search Console.

Click here to learn more about creating XML sitemap using WordPress CMS.

Creating XML Sitemap on Shopify

With Shopify, you can generate and upload sitemaps automatically with just a few clicks, and new pages, blog posts, products, and product images will instantly be added to the sitemap.xml file.

Shopify will keep your sitemap.xml up-to-date with your website's latest changes. You can find the most recent version of your sitemap in the following sitemap index:

Read more on using Shopify CMS to create XML sitemap here.

Steps to Create XML Sitemap on Webflow

Using Webflow CMS, you can either auto-generate the sitemap or add a custom sitemap.

To auto-generate the sitemap, go to Site Settings, and click on the SEO tab. Sitemap section, toggle Auto-generate sitemap to “YES” and click Save Changes.

To add a custom sitemap, disable Auto-generate sitemap, paste your custom sitemap in the Custom sitemap.xml field, click Save Changes, and publish your site.

Click here to read more about creating an XML sitemap using Webflow CMS.

Using Joomla CMS to Create XML Sitemap

You can use a plugin like JSitemap on Joomla CMS to quickly generate XML Sitemaps. It can be used for other SEO purposes, like canonical tag management, keyword research, and link analysis.

With the JSitemap plugin, you can quickly generate responsive HTML sitemaps, geolocation XML sitemaps, and mobile device XML sitemaps.

Learn more about creating XML sitemap using Joomla CMS here.

Using a Sitemap Generator Tool

Sitemap generator tools can be incredibly helpful in creating an XML sitemap, especially if you have a large website with many pages. Some top sitemap generator tools include:

1. XML Sitemap Generator - This free online sitemap generator tool can create XML, HTML, and text sitemaps. It is easy to use and can quickly crawl your website to create a sitemap.

2. Screaming Frog - This powerful desktop-based tool can generate XML sitemaps for websites with up to 500 pages for free.

3. Yoast SEO - This popular WordPress plugin helps you create XML sitemaps and customize what content is included.

When it comes to choosing between free and paid sitemap generators, it depends on your needs. If you have a small website, a free tool might be sufficient, but you may need to invest in a paid tool for larger websites.

Setting XML Sitemap Manually

If you are not using a CMS or a sitemap generator, you can create a sitemap manually. To do this, create a text file that lists all the URLs of the pages on the website. The text file should be formatted in a specific way, which can be found online. After entering the URLs, submit the text file, and the sitemap will be generated.

If you create a sitemap manually, you must ensure it is up-to-date and accurate. You should generally update it after every 15 days. Regularly updating the sitemap as the website changes are more prone to errors.

Where to Place an XML Sitemap?

When creating an XML sitemap for your website, placing it in your HTML server's root directory or sitemap index is essential. It means that your sitemap should be located at

Placing the sitemap in different paths is not recommended for security reasons. It is because it can create confusion for search engines and users as to which sitemap is the correct one to use.

Ensure all URLs listed in the sitemap are found on the same host. If the sitemap is located at, it can include a URL starting with but can not include URLs starting with

Submitting & Validating your XML Sitemap to Google

Submitting your XML sitemap to search engines is crucial in optimizing your website for search engine results. Once you have created your sitemap, you can submit it to Google via the Google Search Console tool.

Head to the “Sitemaps” tab under Indexing in Search Console. Enter your sitemap URL and click submit.

Once you have submitted your sitemap, it will be crawled and indexed by Google. You can then track your sitemap's status and see each web page's indexation status.

Note: Submitting your sitemap does not guarantee that all pages will be indexed by search engines, but it does increase the chances of it happening.

Using Bing Webmaster instead? Find the steps to Submit your sitemap to Bing Webmaster.

Submitting your sitemap is just step one to see SEO success, you also need to regularly validate your XML sitemap. Validating your XML sitemap assures the search engine that your sitemap is valid.

Go back to the Sitemaps tab to check the status of your XML sitemap. If you see "Success" in the status tab, Google can successfully access and crawl your sitemap index.

You can then review when your submission, the last time Googlebot read it, and the number of Discovered URLs.

Best Practices to Optimize XML Sitemap

Implementing XML sitemaps properly can make all the difference in ensuring a website is crawled and indexed correctly. Applying the best practices to setting up and optimizing XML sitemaps can help any website increase rankings and organic visibility.

Also read the top mistakes to avoid when creating & submitting sitemaps.

Below are the best practices to optimize XML sitemaps:

XML Sitemap SEO Best Practices
XML Sitemap SEO Best Practices

1. Include all relevant URLs

Include all relevant URLs in your XML sitemap, including pages that are deep within your website's structure. This will help search engines to discover and index all your content, leading to better visibility in search results.

2. Regularly update your XML sitemap file

Regularly updating your XML sitemap will ensure that search engines have access to the latest content on your website. An outdated sitemap may result in search engines indexing old pages or not indexing new ones.

Determine which pages should be included or if a page should be changed from noindex to “index,follow”. It makes it easier to keep up with the changes to your website and ensure that the correct pages are being indexed.

After updating your sitemap, you should resubmit it to search engines.

3. Add priority to high-value pages

Even though this is an optional tag, adding <priority> to your key pages will indicate which pages are most important or relevant to your website's overall structure and content.

Note: Search engines may not always follow the priority values assigned in XML sitemaps, and other factors like the quality and relevance of content and backlinks may have a greater impact on search ranking.

4. Use the correct HTTP Status Codes

Your sitemap should not include redirected pages with a 301 or 302 HTTP status code, as search engines will not index them. If you still have trouble indexing your pages, you can use Google Search Console to see which pages have problems.

5. Use consistent naming conventions

Using consistent naming conventions for your URLs, particularly for similar or related content, can help to reduce confusion and improve crawlability for search engines. For example, if you have multiple blog posts on a topic, using a consistent naming convention like "" and "" can help search engines to identify and index each post correctly.

6. Add canonical URLs

Google advises that you only include canonical URLs in your XML sitemap. Canonical URLs are preferred for each page you want to appear in search results.

7. Use both XML Sitemaps & RSS/Atom feeds

RSS/Atom feeds notify search engines when new content is added, while XML sitemaps can help search engines find the content quickly. By including only recently updated content in your RSS/Atom feeds, both bots, and users can easily find fresh content.

Regularly Update Your XML Sitemap

Keeping your XML sitemap file up-to-date is crucial for your website's SEO success. Regularly updating your sitemap file ensures that search engines have access to the latest content on your website, improving the chances of indexing and ranking.

By implementing the best practices, you can ensure that your XML sitemap is optimized for search engines and provides the necessary information about your website's pages. So, update your sitemap regularly and submit it to search engines to improve your website's visibility and rankings. Periodically updating the sitemaps are prone to errors, especially if you have a large website. You need a tool to help you identify issues with your XML sitemaps.

The Quattr SEO platform can make it easy for webmasters to find and fix sitemap errors and optimize the website for better search engine performance. It can assist you in identifying any broken links, duplicate pages, or other performance issues with your website. With the help of specialized tools, webmasters can ensure their website has the best possible visibility with search engines. So if you don’t have an XML sitemap for your website, now is the time to create one and start reaping the benefits.

Utilize the Power of your XML Sitemap with Quattr

Get Started

XML Sitemap for SEO FAQs

Is XML Sitemap necessary?

No, an XML sitemap is not necessary. If you are a small to medium-sized website with good internal linking, XML sitemaps may not be required to improve your SEO. However, XML sitemaps are an effective and essential tool for optimizing your huge websites for SEO with many web pages. They help search engines discover the content on your site and prioritize the pages.

Should I have more than one sitemap?

Yes, you should have multiple sitemaps if your website is large. You can keep all the sitemap files (image, video, product pages) in the sitemap index. Having multiple sitemaps can be beneficial because they can hold more information, be organized better, and be easier to manage to index.

What happens when Google Search Console (GSC) says an XML sitemap has errors?

Some issues must be addressed when Google Search Console finds errors in an XML sitemap. It could include missing or duplicate URLs, invalid formatting, and other errors. It is essential to fix these errors to ensure search engines correctly index the sitemap. Once the errors have been addressed, submitting the updated sitemap to Google Search Console is essential.

About The Author

James Gibbons

James Gibbons is the Senior Customer Success Manager at Quattr. He has 10 years of experience in SEO and has worked with multiple agencies, brands, and B2B companies. He has helped clients scale organic and paid search presence to find hidden growth opportunities. James writes about all aspects of SEO: on-page, off-page, and technical SEO.

About Quattr

Quattr is an innovative and fast-growing venture-backed company based in Palo Alto, California USA. We are a Delaware corporation that has raised over $7M in venture capital. Quattr's AI-first platform evaluates like search engines to find opportunities across content, experience, and discoverability. A team of growth concierge analyze your data and recommends the top improvements to make for faster organic traffic growth. Growth-driven brands trust Quattr and are seeing sustained traffic growth.

Try Content AI Free Tools for SEO and Marketing

No items found.

Ready to see how Quattr
can help your brand?

Try our growth engine for free with a test drive.

Our AI SEO platform will analyze your website and provide you with insights on the top opportunities for your site across content, experience, and discoverability metrics that are actionable and personalized to your brand.