XML Sitemap Explained

The tool known as an XML sitemap is an organizing feature for websites that will list all the URLs for a search engine to utilize. This tool creates a file on your website that will tell Google exactly what is on the site itself. The abbreviation ‘XML’ stands for Extensible Markup Language. The XML sitemap tool will create somewhat of a markup of the most important URLs of a website on one page. This can show and compile all of the posts, pages, categories, tags, or authors contained in the site. 

The main purpose of this tool is to show search engines what the website’s purpose and content is about. It also makes it easier for them to know what to crawl for. This means that it can point Google or other search engines to the website’s most important highlights, how to reach that content, and when it was last updated by the creator or business. In terms of helping a website’s search engine optimization (SEO), the XML sitemap will not necessarily accomplish more traffic or increase the ranking of the website, but it can guide it in this direction indirectly. By the end of this article, you will know exactly what an XML sitemap is, its benefits, and how to use it.

what is a sitemap

When to Use an XML Sitemap 

A sitemap in general is an important factor for any website’s success, regardless of its size. For larger websites, however, XML sitemaps are almost vital. This is because it will help organize and shift through all of the material provided by the site. You can also use it to prioritize certain links that may be of greater importance over others. It can also be used to provide more needed information on these links. Anyone or any business that has created a website that contains information through links, videos, several pages, etc. can easily benefit by using XML sitemaps. Websites that contain a greater amount of archives can benefit greatly from this tool. Why? Because this means that there is more information being captured by the site that can be organized better.

Another type of website that could benefit from using this is newer sites that contain only a few external links. This is because a site like this can indirectly help its search engine optimization by doing so.

Websites that heavily rely on media content will also want to utilize this kind of tool. In this case, it will re-categorize based on relevancy and create a clearer image of the site’s main objective for the viewers. As discussed, there are many reasons to use a technological tool such as this one for a business’s successful online presence. These days, it is important to make sure your website is clear enough for anyone to understand what exactly its purpose is and what it is all about. So, sitemaps in general will help identify those key points in your business. Websites that are aiming to grow and reach their target audience should plan to set up this sitemap in order to do so. 

How XML Is Helpful for SEO 

For any business with an online presence, looking into search engine optimization (SEO) is a crucial aspect of establishing traffic. SEO is the practice of utilizing keywords, meta descriptions, or phrases that are related to your website’s content or service that will improve traffic. The purpose of sitemaps is to make any information provided by your website to become more concise by making it easier for search engines to crawl. In turn, this can help expand its audience. Making crawlability simpler for search engines is a main component of SEO. XML sitemaps are what allow this to happen. They do so by pointing out both the main internal and external links provided throughout the pages of your website. 

For instance, incorporating relevant internal links can help Google learn more about your website and organizing those links is an important factor of SEO. As sitemaps can be a great and easy way to work on your SEO, this does not guarantee increased traffic and ranking. But, it can certainly showcase a more updated and impressively organized business site to the public. As a main part of a search engine’s job is to search and index sites based on keywords, this tool can recommend where it points its attention to.

what is an xml sitemap

Building an XML Sitemap 

Not only are sitemaps helpful for a business, but they also very simple to utilize and set up. When creating an XML sitemap for your site, it is important to scan and search for the URLs that you want to be prioritized. Once your URL data is cleared up and organized as you must code them, you set up an excel file in which you collect and enter the tool’s URLs through XML tags. 

Once created, you can then save and add the sitemap to your site. By coding each URL, you are identifying its location, priority, and when it was last updated for the search engine to easily notice. To submit the sitemap, you will need to go to Google Search Console where you will find ‘Crawl’ and then sitemaps. There are alternate and even simpler ways to implement this tool as well, which are easily found online. The important thing to know before taking these steps is how each URL, both internal and external links, are linked to the purpose of your website. 

Sitemap Examples 

There are a couple of different types of sitemaps that are helpful to your website’s SEO. There are three different categories to using sitemaps. One of them is when it is used by web developers to help plan the website. Another is when it is used for the purpose of being visibly seen on the site to help visitors. The last type is created for the search engines, such as the XML sitemap. It will contain the list of URLs from the website. XML in general will let these search engines navigate through larger sites that may seem confusing to them at first.

The only other popular type of sitemap is HTML sitemaps. This kind will help guide people through your content rather than the search engines itself. ‘HTML’ stands for hypertext markup language, as it contains all the pages from your website like a table of contents. This will work as a navigation tool for anyone who is looking for a specific piece of content. Although both XML and HTML are a type of coding language for your website, HTML makes it less complicated for users to understand where to find content while XML solely works to make search engine crawlers find that content more efficiently. 

what's xml

Different Types of XMLs 

In utilizing any sitemap for your site, you should have a future goal in mind for how you would like your website to appeal to people. The XML sitemap tool specifically is quick and easy for any business to set up for their website, as it is helpful in their SEO journey. A technological tool like this can play a crucial part in helping a website’s search engine optimization. This is because it will allow search engines to efficiently find the most important parts of the site. The four categories of XML sitemaps are image, video, mobile, and news sitemaps. 

Image Sitemaps 

This type of XML pertains to categorizing all of the images within a website’s pages. Search engines are able to conduct image searches as well as web searches. So just like putting your most important URLs in place on the XML sitemap, you can do the same with images that you consider relevant to your business. When doing so, you can also utilize image extensions from Google to provide even more information about those images individually by adding tags for each.

Video Sitemaps 

When videos are an important part of your content, you want to make sure they are easily discoverable. For search engines to find easier, using video sitemaps can help achieve this. When people need to find more information on a topic quickly, thirty-second videos and tutorials are popularly searched for. When users conduct a web search, search engines will look through an index to help them find the most relevant videos.  

sitemap example

Mobile Sitemaps

In today’s world, most people access the internet directly from their mobile devices rather than on their computers. Mobile sitemaps allow people with a responsive site for use on mobile devices to create a mobile sitemap. It should only be needed if there are pages on the site with mobile content from the web. This will allow for traffic to flow from more than just one source, ultimately helping your SEO.


  • What is an XML sitemap?
  • Do sitemaps help with SEO?
  • How do you build an XML sitemap?
  • What are the different types of XML sitemaps?
  • What is an HTML sitemap?

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