“Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling”. [sitemaps.org]

What is XML Sitemap?

The XML Sitemap is a XML file that includes all page links of your site. You can create one or multiple sitemap file for your site, each of sitemap file limit size to 50MB (uncompressed) and 50,000 URLs.

The below is a simple XML sitemap format.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
   <url>
      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>
      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
      <priority>0.8</priority>
   </url>
</urlset>

Notes: changefreq and priority tags will be omitted by Google search engine, so you can omit these tags when create a your XML sitemap to saving your file size.

Does Sitemaps can improve ranking on Google and Bing?

No. Sitemaps cannot affect your site ranking. Sitemaps is a protocol that tells the search engines these pages are available on site. The search engines might not discover all pages on your site, or they got your page is too lately.

Sitemaps can help web crawler easyly find your pages and indexed. Your site content is important first for Google, Bing or another search engines.

Why you should create sitemaps? The below is the main advantage.

  1. Get all the pages on your site discovered by the search engines.
  2. Tell the search engines about your preferred URLs.
  3. Give you extra stats in Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster tool.

Sitemaps don’t help get your content indexed or ranked. For the best chance of getting indexed and the best chance of getting ranked, you should ensure your pages link to each other.

What are XML Sitemaps Types?

There are sitemap types for Html, Images, Videos and Google News.

Image Sitemaps

If you want user find your site via image search or page containing images with javascript using lazy loading, you need one.

XML sitemap file includes image URL with metadata about title, description etc. This sitemap type is especially useful for the image website, photos website, photo albums.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
        xmlns:image="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1">
  <url>
    <loc>http://example.com/sample.html</loc>
    <image:image>
      <image:loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</image:loc>
    </image:image>
    <image:image>
      <image:loc>http://example.com/photo.jpg</image:loc>
    </image:image>
  </url> 
</urlset> 

Learn more about image sitemap format on Google Image Sitemap.

Video Sitemaps

As the name suggests, this sitemap type is use for video.

<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
        xmlns:video="http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1">
   <url>
     <loc>http://www.example.com/videos/some_video_landing_page.html</loc>
     <video:video>
       <video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.example.com/thumbs/123.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>
       <video:title>Grilling steaks for summer</video:title>
       <video:description>Alkis shows you how to get perfectly done steaks every
         time</video:description>
       <video:content_loc>
           http://streamserver.example.com/video123.mp4</video:content_loc>
       <video:duration>600</video:duration> 
     </video:video>
   </url>
</urlset>

Learn about more video sitemap on Video sitemaps and video sitemap alternatives on Google

Google News Sitemaps

Google News sitemap is so special that only used by Google News. Your publication.name must exactly match with Google’s news publish name.

How to Submit Sitemap to Google and Bing?

If your website is small, there are only a few pages then your don’t have to create sitemap, you just submit your website URL to Google and Bing and the rest of works let they do.

If your website have a hundred or thousand pages, or have the dynamic webiste(like blog, news…), you should create sitemaps to organize your website. Fortunately, there are many free or paid plugins can help your automaticly to generate XML sitemap. like SitemapHub supports for create different media types, images, videos, news.

If you don’t have time or just want get the easy way, your can uses Ping tools to submit.

  • Ping Google. Open your browser and enter the below link on the address bar.

    http://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=your-site-url
    
  • Ping Bing. Open your browser and enter the below link on the address bar.

    https://www.bing.com/ping?sitemap=your-site-url
    

Submit Sitemap by robots.txt file

robots.txt is a txt file that used by web crawler. If you don’t have robots.txt file, Create a robots.txt file

then Add your sitemap to your robots.txt.

robots.txt

    User-Agent: *
    Disallow:
    Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_1.xml
    Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_2.xml
  1. The robots.txt file must be located at the root of the website.
  2. Sitemap url must be absolute URL with https:// or http://.

In the End

Sitemap is important for website. Sitemaps let Google and Bing knows our website added a new page as fast as possible.

On the other handle, Google Search Control and Bing Webmaster Tool can give you extra stats about how many pages are crawled and indexed.