How do I create a sitemap for my website?

A sitemap can be used to improve the indexation of a website. Sitemaps can be submitted easily and conveniently to the Google and Bing search engines. This article shows you multiple methods.

Sitemaps for search engines must be rendered in a special ‘machine-readable’ format. A search-engine-readable sitemap must be hierarchically structured and written in a mark-up language that is designed for this purpose. The XML sitemap protocol serves as the basis for an XML sitemap.

Creating an XML Sitemap

Every webmaster can create an XML sitemap for his or her website quickly and easily. The online sitemap generator of XML-Sitemaps.com is a very helpful tool in this regard.

Input mask for creating your very own XML sitemap on XML-Sitemaps.com
Input mask for creating your very own XML sitemap on XML-Sitemaps.com

If your website does not consist of more than 500 pages, you can quickly generate an XML sitemap with the help of this free online sitemap generator.

After the domain, including the protocol, has been entered, the generator starts to analyse your site’s internal navigation in order to create the sitemap.

Once the creation of the XML sitemap is complete, you have the option of exporting the created XML sitemap.

Dialog after a successful migration
Dialog after a successful migration

In addition to the XML sitemap with the file name “sitemap.xml”, which is necessary for search engines, a number of other files are created:

  • sitemap.xml: The file required by default  
  • sitemap.xml.gz: A sitemap.xml file that is heavily compressed in file size by means of gzip. Search engines treat it as equivalent to the uncompressed sitemap.xml file.  
  • sitemap.html: A clearly formatted HTML sitemap for website visitors
  • urllist.txt: A simple text file that lists all of the URLs in the sitemap one after the other
  • ror.xml: An XML-based sitemap which is extended to include RSS

These files can be downloaded in another box or sent by email.

XML download view
XML download view

Alternative ways to create an XML sitemap

Google offers a number of alternative ways to create sitemaps at https://code.google.com/archive/p/sitemap-generators/wikis/SitemapGenerators.wiki. These include server-side scripts, downloadable programs and other online generators.

Using an XML sitemap

The “sitemap.xml” file must be uploaded to the main directory (root) of your own domain.

The XML sitemap must be accessible under your own domain:

http://www.meine-domain.de/sitemap.xml

The result should look something like this:

the file sitemap.xml of the domain seo.at in a browser
the file sitemap.xml of the domain seo.at in a browser

Alternatively, the file “sitemap.xml.gz” can be used, as its size is much smaller due to file compression.

The other files can be ignored; alternatively, all of them can be uploaded to your own web space.

If the XML sitemap can be accessed online via your own domain, it should be submitted to Google:

It is also possible to automate the sitemap generation:

Video explanation on this topic

John Müller explains that a sitemap is very helpful for Google and discusses how even large domains with more than 50,000 URLs can be mapped using a sitemap.

Helpful links for sitemaps

Google Search Console Help: Creating Sitemaps
XML Sitemap Protocol (sitemaps.org)
Overview of sitemap variants

Steve Paine
13.08.2021