Are you trying to figure out how to find a sitemap for your website? Understanding how your site fits together is critical to search engine optimization (SEO). It’s how web crawlers from search engines catalog and find all URLs on a domain.
Sitemaps aren’t essential from the front of the website and user experience point of view. But they do help ensure Google is finding all your URLs and setting priority on what pages should be ranking – like product or service as compared to blogs or downloadable content. If not, you could be missing out on potential clicks and visits to your site.
In fact, sitemaps are the foundation of any healthy and successful website. That’s why you need to know how to find a sitemap for a website. Be it yours or someone else’s. In this article, you’ll learn what a sitemap is, how to find a sitemap of a website, and why it’s so important.
How to Find a Sitemap
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is nothing more than a list of all the pages on your website. These sitemaps come in many different types, including:
- RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0
- Google Sites
We’ll be focusing on XML sitemaps for this article, as they’re by far the most commonly used. An XML sitemap is also just a list of your website’s URLs provided by search engines. Such sitemaps are written in code format. This format is outlined by sitemaps.org, which is the principal authority for XML sitemap creation. In contrast to most websites, blog software typically uses RSS or ATOM feed to create sitemaps.
You can add more information to your sitemap using an extension. For example, there are special protocols to help you include Video, Image, and News information.
There’s also a limit to the number of pages you can include in a sitemap. That’s not normally an issue. But when handling a site like the BBC, multiple sitemaps need to be created because there are so many pages. The limit is 50,000 pages and a file size limit of 50 MB. You can link sitemaps together, however, to create a master sitemap.
Why do you need to find a sitemap?
First, you’ll want to check your XML sitemap to see if you even have one. Then, you’ll want to make sure it’s valid and submit the URL to search engines.
In general, site administrators put the sitemap file in the root folder domain. For example, our sitemap is:
That’s just best practice, though. In truth, a sitemap can be kept anywhere – even another domain. Those aren’t the only reasons to find a sitemap. Here are a few more:
- Discover outdated sitemaps on your domain
- List all pages on a website
- For competitive analysis (how do competitors structure their sitemap)
- To submit sitemap URLs to web crawlers
How to find a sitemap of a website
To start, there are three basic places to check:
- Type out your domain name followed by one of the following endings:
- Look in the robots.txt file for the sitemap URL. It’s typically included here as this is the first place search engines crawl. To do so, add /robots.txt to the end of your domain name.
- Conduct a site search on Google, specifying an XML type file: site:businessite.com filetype:xml. If you need to be even more specific, add inurl:sitemap to the end of your search term, as you can receive a significant number of results otherwise.
If you still can’t find your sitemap, it’s time to try some more advanced techniques. One of the best ways is to try SEO Site Checkup’s sitemap tool. To use it, simply enter your website’s URL, and it’ll scan your site for a sitemap. It’ll also provide the link, so you can go straight ahead and start analyzing the sitemap.
What if I’m using a website building like Shopify or Squarespace?
Website builders like SquareSpace and Shopify will automatically generate XML sitemaps. So, if you can’t find one, something has gone seriously wrong.
To find such a sitemap, simply type this into your browser:
Your sitemap should always appear. It’s important to remember that it might not be 100% up-to-date. Typically, such sites automatically update the sitemap within 24 hours when new pages or content is added.
If you’ve used WordPress to build your site, you won’t automatically have an XML sitemap. Instead, you need a plugin to generate a sitemap. Try Google XML Sitemaps or Yoast SEO to create a sitemap – both are simple to use.
Suppose you’ve already generated a sitemap using a plugin. Then, you can access that sitemap using any of the basic techniques listed above, e.g., /sitemap, /sitemap.xml, or /sitemap_index.xml. Your sitemap will also appear in the businessite.com/robot.txt file.
What to do with your sitemap?
Now you know how to find a sitemap for a website. What do you do with it?
You’ll want to make sure the sitemap is up-to-date, and the URLs are valid. If the sitemap is old or inaccurate, make sure to make corrections and upload the new sitemap to the same location. Don’t upload more than one sitemap, as this will confuse the search engine crawlers.
You can also add your sitemap declaration to your robots.txt file – though this isn’t essential. However, it will help search engines other than Google or Bing obtain information about your site.
Finally, submit your sitemap URL to Google via Google Search Console. (You can also do the same for Bing via the Bing Webmasters Tools).
What if you can’t find a sitemap?
If, after trying everything, you still can’t find a sitemap, you’ll need to make one. Try one of the recommended plugins, or use a crawler like Screaming Frog.
Optimize Your Sitemap!
Do you need help trying to figure out how to find a sitemap? Contact Clicta Digital Agency today for a free SEO consultation! Our dedicated SEO experts have years of experience and understands what it takes to increase website traffic, leads, and overall sales.