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A sitemap is a file on your website that provides information about what is on the website, and is typically viewed as a list of URLs of all your files, images, videos and webpages. A sitemap can be used to show search engines what URLs need to be crawled and which don’t. There are two main types of sitemaps that are typically used; HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps. HTML sitemaps are helpful for a user to explore a website and is also accessible for search engines too. XML sitemaps are the best for bots that are crawling the website and can highlight the priority URLs and therefore the version we always recommend and use ourselves. A XML sitemap can also be found by the user but isn’t typically displayed for them to find and use.

How to use a XML sitemap?

Sitemaps aren’t a direct ranking factor but can be very useful for search engines and particularly useful when a new website goes live. You can let Google and the other search engines know that your XML sitemap exists by either putting it in the robots.txt or manually adding it to your Google Search Console account. GSC will let you know if you have successfully uploaded your sitemap to it and when it was last crawled by Google Bot. You will also be able to review the quality of your sitemap in GSC and view it yourself to check to see if it needs updating at all or if there are any errors to tackle.

Are there limits to XML sitemaps?

There are indeed limitations to using an XML sitemap, here are a few things to keep an eye on. Large sitemaps will need to be broken into smaller groups, the maximum number of URLs a sitemap can have is 50,000, so if you have a lot of URLs, images, products, etc, you will need to create a category structure to your sitemap. You can break these down into; pages, posts, authors, images, or anything that really makes sense to the structure of your website and what your website has on it. Finally; to avoid any issues for your sitemap, make sure it only contains good 200 response URLs. This means, don’t have any 300, 400 or 500 URLs in your sitemap. Because it’s not something you’ll be checking regularly (and there should be no need to), be sure that it’s right the first time around and remember you can confirm this will GSC.

Get in touch

If you would like to know more about your website’s structure and sitemap or if you have a question about the subject of this article, get in touch with our team today. Contact us through our website or social media to have a chat with a member of the 427 team.

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