An XML sitemap is an important and essential tool for crawlers and Search Engines (Google) to navigate your site and to discover new pages. The purpose of an XML sitemap is to inform crawlers of various pieces of information:
- Which pages exist, or are of importance, and need to be indexed
- When a page was created and when it was last updated
- Alternate versions of the same page in multiple languages for geographic targeting
When creating an XML sitemap, it is most efficient to use a tool that automatically generates the sitemap based on either a list of URLs, or a website crawl. The majority of the most popular content management systems (CMS) offer this feature by default, while lesser known CMS may require a third-party plugin or extension to create a sitemap. These plugins typically require less effort, and have a smaller margin for error. As such, we recommend using one of the following plugins or tools, as opposed to trying to create your sitemap yourself. Reason being, you don’t need the knowledge of writing XML markup, being a developer, or in-depth technical SEO knowledge to create the sitemap with these tools. Many of these tools will automatically update the sitemap whenever a page is added, updated, or removed from the website, giving you less to worry about. So, a big thank you to the evolution of technology!
Also, XML sitemaps generated with these tools are usually multilingual. But, for larger websites which are translated into many languages we recommend using our SEO HREFLANG tool instead. Our tool helps to easily create sitemap files with built-in hreflang implementation to help you to map the URLs more precisely and help search engines rank the right page in the right index.
We have listed some methods below outlining how you can easily create an XML sitemap for your website based on your CMS of choice.
Best sitemap generator tools
WordPress automatically generates an XML Sitemap for your website by default. Which, out-of-the-box, can contain up to 50K individual sitemaps, each with up to 2K URLs. By adding the “/sitemap.xml” suffix to your WordPress site URL in the browser bar, you can see your default sitemap.
Although this is a great feature that was introduced by WordPress; with the launch of the version 5.5, and fits the purpose of having your pages discovered by Google; we recommend you use a third-party plugin instead. It will provide you with more customisability with your sitemaps, as well as additional features to optimise your website.
Here are our Top 3 plug-ins for WordPress, that you can use to generate an XML sitemap, but also to improve your website’s performance.
Sitemap generators for WordPress
- All in One SEO
All in One SEO is one of the most popular SEO plug-ins for WordPress, with good reason. It can be used to improve your website performance in SERPs, by providing you features like meta tags, setting up 404-pages, schema implementation, but also setting an XML Sitemap. With the All in One SEO plug-in, setting up your XML sitemap is really easy. In fact, it’s enabled by default and there’s very little configuration needed.
- Rank Math
Rank Math is another SEO plug-in that you can use to automatically generate a sitemap in WordPress. This tool is free, and, as with All in One SEO, it offers many features that you can use to improve your website’s performance. From the Setup Wizard tab, you can set up your sitemaps. Rank Math gives you the option to generate separate sitemap files for posts, images, authors, amongst other options providing you with flexible options based on your needs. While it isn’t necessary to have multiple sitemaps for different types of posts, it can help with reviewing and auditing your website.
- Yoast SEO
One of the more popular WordPress plugins is Yoast SEO. You can use this plug-in to automatically generate an XML Sitemap for your website. In the tab called “Features” you would find a section called “XML Sitemaps”, just make sure that the option “On” is selected. You also have the possibility to see the XML Sitemap URL that you have generated.
Contrary to WordPress, which generates by default an XML Sitemap, with Magento 2 you must configure it manually from the admin dashboard within the platform. Astral Web Inc. have created a video tutorial on how to configure your sitemap in the dashboard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BexT0CW3_Xw
You also have the option to add plug-ins in Magento to automatically generate an XML Sitemap that offers you additional features to improve your website performance and traffic.
Sitemap generators for Magento
- SEO Suite Ultimate extension for Magento 2
With this Magento 2 SEO extension, you can fill in the gaps of the default Magento SEO setup and optimise every aspect of your website. Some of the key aspects of your website that you could optimise using this extension are XML sitemap, Meta tags, Canonical URLs, Redirects, Rich Snippets, etc. The price for SEO Suite Ultimate extension for Magento 2 is $299.
- CREARESEO 2.0
Magento is very SEO-friendly out-of-the-box, but the CreareSEO 2.0 extension can make your website or e-commerce store even more SEO-friendly. By installing this SEO Magento extension, you will gain access to several new settings tools that will help you fix issues such as duplicate content and unwanted 404 pages, and set-up an XML Sitemap or Meta tag. Plus is free!
- Advanced SEO for Magento 2.x
Using the Activo’s Advanced SEO extension for Magento 2 you can automatically generate an XML Sitemap for your website and add the Organisation schema.org rich snippet to your store’s homepage. Having a schema installed on your website is an important ranking factor to Google. This extension is easy to install and free.
Unlike WordPress or Magento, Shopify doesn’t offer by default any customisation to generate an XML Sitemap. Which means you must rely on third parties’ plugins. Here are our top 3 sitemap generators for websites developed on Shopify:
Sitemap generators for Shopify
Sitemapper is one of the most popular sitemap generators for e-commerce businesses. It’s easy to use and it saves you time by automatically synchronising all the changes you make, on any of your pages, collections, products and blog posts, every 60 minutes. Price per month is $4.99.
- Plug In SEO
Plug In SEO offers you key features to boost rankings, traffic, and sales. With Plug In SEO installed on your Shopify website you can set up everything you need for on-page SEO: meta titles & descriptions, image alt text, XML schema, broken link check, search console, & more. Plug in SEO constantly checks your shop for any issues and sends you notifications on email when it finds something. The app has full support and code snippets directions and guidance. Moreover, it has a free plan available.
- Reload SEO
Reload SEO is one of the top all-in-one SEO tools for Shopify websites. With Reload SEO you can not only generate an XML Sitemap, but also check for backlinks, perform competitor analysis, do a keyword research, content optimisation and more. Reload SEO is made for anyone who has a Shopify website, and costs $ 14.95/month.
If your website is built using Drupal, there are a couple of options for you to choose from in terms of automatically managing your XML sitemap generation. We have picked out two that are relatively simple to use whilst giving you good flexibility.
Sitemap generators for Drupal
- Simple XML Sitemap
The Simple XML Sitemap automatically generates an XML sitemap for your Drupal website, whilst adhering to Google’s latest recommendations and guidelines. It offers the possibility to apply various customisations, because it comes with several submodules that can add sitemap links for content, menu items, taxonomy terms, and user profiles.
- XML Sitemap
Using the Drupal XML Sitemap module, you can create XML sitemaps that adhere to sitemap.org guidelines. The sitemaps generated can be submitted to search engines like Google, Ask, Bing, etc. In addition, the module comes with submodules that allow site administrators to customise links and output.
Your Squarespace website comes with a sitemap in XML format, so you don’t have to create one manually. The URLs for all pages on your site and image metadata are included for SEO-friendly indexing. As you add or remove pages, the index is automatically updated. This is suitable for beginners, and you can find a comprehensive guide to generate the sitemap here https://support.squarespace.com/hc/en-us/articles/206543547-Your-site-map
There are no plug-ins available for Squarespace website.
How to check your XML sitemap for errors?
There are multiple tools available, including Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, as well as SEO professional tools such as RYTE that can analyse your site. They provide feedback for improvements including any disparity between your XML sitemap content and your actual site crawlable and indexable items. Alternatively, crawling your sitemap with a tool such as ScreamingFrog will help you to analyse the URLs contained within your sitemap, and whether they are resolving with the correct status code, or whether they are indexable.
An XML Sitemap is an important part of the SEO process to improve the website’s discoverability and performance. It facilitates crawling on your websites and help search engines to better understand how it is build.
Installing any of these plugins will increase the chances to improve your rankings, visitors, leads, and conversions.