You probably already know the importance of having a sitemap on your website. Maybe you’ve already built one or perhaps you are in the process of doing so. It’s imperative for SEO and Googe even has a guide on how to do it properly.
Making a sitemap isn’t that straightforward, however. While it can get technical and confusing, it shouldn’t discourage you from creating one. That’s why we’ve compiled everything you need to know right here.
Fact #1: There’s more than sitemap
Did you know there’s more than one kind of sitemap? When we talk about sitemaps, we usually refer to XML sitemaps, but there are several other kinds:
- RSS Feeds mRSS Feeds
- Google News Sitemap
- Alternative language XML Sitemap
You can also have a sitemap that focus specifically on images, video or mobile. It’s important to know what type of sitemap you are trying to build before you start.
Fact #2: You can’t trust static sitemap generators
You might be tempted to not bother doing it yourself and instead trust a static sitemap generator. Most of these are free and seem easy to use.
There’s a catch, however: they aren’t great. Static sitemap generators are only to be used if you have a new website that you want indexed as quiclly as possible. New URLs that you create won’t be added to these sitemaps, making them inflexibile. They also tend to list every page on your site, even if you don’t want some displayed.
Fact #3: Not every page belongs on a sitemap
There are some pages that you simply shouldn’t include on your sitemap. Here are some examples:
- Redirect, client, and server pages
- Duplicates, canonicalized, and paginated pages
- Pages with parameters
- Noindex pages
- Pages that are not permitted by robots.txt
The trick is to think about whether you want it to show up in Google’s search results. If you do, put it on the sitemap. If not, don’t
Fact #4: A sitemap has its limits
There are some limits on what a sitemap can do. The uncompressed file can’t be larger than 50MB or have more than 50,000 URLs. It’s unlikely most websites will break that limit, owever.
There’s also a limit on the amount of sitemaps you can upload to Google, which is 500 in total. Again, it’s unlikely any business will hit this limit.
Fact #5: Sitemaps should be private
Your sitemap doesn’t have to be open to the public. While it’s good to have a public-facing sitemap on your site for usability, the xml sitemap doesn’t have to be listed at all.
- A large website with many pages
- A new website that needs to be indexed
- A website that frequently updates its content (i.e. news sites)