Finding the sitemap to a website can sometimes prove to be tricky and extremely time-consuming. This is because there are multiple ways to create a sitemap. Keeping this in mind, this article is written to act as a guide to answering the question “How to find sitemap?
But, what’s all this fuss about a sitemap? What even is a sitemap and why are we so interested in it?
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap, in simple terms, is essentially a list of all the different pages on your website. A sitemap plays a critical role in search engine optimization (SEO), as software called web crawlers specifically make use of this to navigate their way around the website. So, a web crawler now only needs to get to the sitemap to add all the contents of the site to the search engine.
The utility of a sitemap lies in the fact it lessens the work on the part of the web crawler since it can use the same upon its next visit to the website. So, there’s a chance that your website may rank lower if you forget to update the details of the sitemap to the server directly. Moreover, they can also make up for poor internal linking on your website.
There are a couple of other reasons as to why you might want to find the sitemap on a site. It could be because you’re trying to update the contents on your site whilst getting rid of the older sitemaps. Or maybe, you’re trying to analyze your rival’s sites to see how they’re designing their sitemaps in order for you to make the one on your site is better structured.
What are the different formats of sitemaps?
Sitemaps.org, the official body that resides over the sitemaps recognizes only a handful of formats. Google does support all these formats as well. They include:
2) RSS, mRSS, and Atom 1.0
4) Google Sites
It’s worth mentioning that some special files need additional extensions for them to be included in a sitemap. These include videos, images, and news pieces. It’s also worth noting that some larger sites have more than one sitemap since the limit for one stretches only up to 50,000 pages and a negligible file space limit of 50 megabytes. In cases like this, you may need to create a master sitemap by the inclusion of links to the smaller sitemaps.
How to find sitemap of a website? A step-by-step guide
Getting to the crux of the article, there are a number of ways in which you can find the sitemap on a website. These include:
- Looks for the files manually
- Use robots.txt to accomplish the task
- Make use of advanced search operators
- Use an online tool like the Google Search Console
- Check CMS
1) Look for files manually
The first obvious method and probably the easiest is to look for the files yourself. But, you don’t have to go searching for it across the breadth of the domain. All you need to do is go over some of the most common locations in which it may be lodged. These locations include:
A) https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap.xml– The root directory of the domain is one of the first places you should start looking for. There isn’t a fixed name for the sitemap as it may vary from one site to another. In some cases, they could be surreptitiously hidden in one of the sub-folders as well
B) https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap_index.xml– The next obvious location of the sitemap is the index of the sitemaps itself
C) https:www.websitedomain.com/sitemap/– You could try this in case the first two fail as it usually drives you to https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap.xml
In reality, the possibilities are actually endless. But, some of the other locations that are worthy of mention include:
- https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap1.xm1- generally used in situations where there are multiple sitemaps, where this may be the first one on the list
- https://www.websitedomain.com/post-sitemap.xml- acts like a sitemap of posts that are now beginning to be seen more often now in websites
- https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap-index.xml- this one works if the sitemap is hidden in a sub-folder
2) Use robots.txt to accomplish the task
If the previous step seems too cumbersome, then you always try using the robots.txt file. What exactly is robots.txt? It’s basically a file with instructions present in it for web crawlers to go about their task of looking for the sitemap. So, what you need to do is add /robots.txt to the website domain of your choice to look for its robots.txt file. You will see something like this in case the sitemap has been found successfully: https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap.xml
3) Make use of advanced search operators
In case robots.txt doesn’t deliver any results, then your best bet is to make use of advanced search operators. There is a wide range of them that can actually use, but there are mainly two ways in which you can do so. They are:
- Type in site:websitedomain.com filetype:xml or site:websitedomain.com ext:xml. This should ideally pick up on something, but if that doesn’t happen, proceed to the next step
- Type in site:websitedomain.com ext:xml inurl:sitemap. What this does is look for matching XML files on the domain that you’ve picked and are included in the folder or subfolder directory
4) Use an online tool like the Google Search Console
It’s fairly simple to locate the sitemap if you already have a Google Search Console setup for your website. All you are required to do is login and check if Googlebot, the specific web crawler that Google makes use of has already declared the sitemap.
While Google Search Console is the more popular option, there are other alternatives that you can make use of as well. Some of them include SEO Site Checkup, whose platform is fairly identical to Google Search Console. They have a sitemap tool that simplifies the process of getting to the bottom of answering how to find sitemap.
5) Check CMS
If you’re utilizing a CMS, there’s a high chance that they’ve taken the responsibility of creating a sitemap upon themselves. Go through the information booklet or their website to see what the specifics are on sitemaps. The next section of this article is dedicated to some of the most commonly used CMS services and how to find sitemap on them.
How to find your sitemap on WordPress?
Unlike other CMS services, WordPress does not create XML sitemaps of your site by default. A plug-in is needed to accomplish this task. Some of the choices for this include the Google XML Sitemaps or Yoast SEO. While both of them are user-friendly, the latter comes with the benefit of more SEO tools for you to play around with.
The previous scenario applies when you’re the one responsible for making a sitemap for your own website. But, in the case that someone else has been entrusted with that responsibility, there’s a high chance that may already have a plug-in in place. As we’d discussed earlier, the root file of the domain is usually where the plug-in like to put your sitemap. So, go to https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap.xmlto locate the files. In case that doesn’t turn up a result, try using robots.txt instead.
An alternative method to find the sitemap on any WordPress site is to log in to your profile and follow the steps mentioned below:
1) Navigate to the Admin area once you’ve logged into WordPress successfully
2) Now, click on Plugins and try to find which ones of them related to the sitemap that is still currently active
3) Once you’ve identified that, go to Tools and find an option labeled Sitemap or XML sitemap
4) You’ll now click on SEO under XML sitemap and voila, you’ve successfully located the sitemap
How to find a sitemap on Squarespace and Shopify?
The good news is that both of these platforms end up automatically generating XML sitemaps for your domain. Like before, it’s the root file of the domain that the sitemap gets stored in. So, https://www.websitedomain.com/sitemap.xmlis the first place that you should be looking for to find the sitemap. As icing on the cake, you’re not even required to add in new titles as the sitemap gets automatically updated with the latest URLs as and when you post newer content.
How to find sitemap on Wix?
Just like in the case of Squarespace and Shopify, Wix also automatically creates a sitemap as and when you add more pages to your website. All you’ll need to take care of is submitting the sitemap to the Google Search Console. The most common location remains the root file of the domain on Wix as well.
Some of the URL paths where you might find the sitemap on Wix include:
- /pages-sitemap.xml for Pages
- /blog-pages-sitemap.xml for a new blog post
- /store-products-sitemap.xml for the in-built store on Wix
- /booking-services-sitemap.xml for the booking services included in Wix
- /forum-pages-sitemap.xml for the Forum page integrated into the Wix platform
- /member-profiles-sitemap.xml for exclusive members of Wix
- /other-pages-sitemap.xml for pages that have not been included in any of the aforementioned categories
How to find your sitemap on Joomla?
Joomla comes with a ton of extensions, most of which take care of creating a sitemap for your domain. The standard rules of the root file of the domain being the most common location for a sitemap apply here as well.
How to find my sitemap on Magento?
Magento also uses /sitemap.xml as the location for the sitemap. But, they do offer a chance for you to change it.
What to do once the sitemap has been located?
As soon as the sitemap has been located, the next step is to validate the file. You can do so by using a validator that’s specifically available on XML-Sitemaps.com All you’ll need to do is to copy the address of the website onto the search box and click on the button that reads Validate Sitemap. This online tool’s specific design allows it to pick up on any problems with your sitemap and report them right away. This is an important step that you need to take care of before delivering it to Google.
1) Always ensure that your website is getting constantly updated with all the newest URLs getting added. Get rid of inaccurate or old URLs and replace them with the ones that are relevant
2) It’s always a good idea to have your sitemap declaration included in the robots.txt file. Search engines like Google or Bing can pick up this as well, hence giving a much-needed boost to your SEO rankings
3) Include your sitemap on Google by the use of Google Search Console. This step is important as this online tool can furnish information to gauge how well your site is doing with respect to exposure and brand awareness. Bing also has its own tool which serves more or less the same purpose, so you could end up using that as well
How to view the sitemap of a website in case of different formats?
We’ve so far only dealt with the XML format of sitemaps, but there are other platforms as well. So, what can you do if you have to find the sitemap of a website with a very different format? This section of the article is dedicated to this specific purpose.
- HTML- One of the oldest formats, but also equally easy for beginners to get the hang of. The location of the sitemap in most cases happen to be /sitemap/
- RSS- The utility of this platform lies in the fact that an RSS feed itself can be utilized as the sitemap. The location of the sitemap is usually /rss/, or in some cases /rss.xml
- TXT- This is pretty much a text file. The sitemap can generally be found in /sitemap.txt
- Atom- works similarly to the RSS format, where a predetermined feed acts as the basis for a sitemap. You can find the sitemap on /atom.xml
How to submit the sitemap to Google?
Now that we’ve found the sitemap and verified its validity, the only remaining thing to do is to submit it to the Google Search Console.
But, before one can do that, there are a couple of prerequisites that need to be addressed. These are:
- You’ll need to have the owner’s permission to be able to submit the sitemaps file for consideration. But, you can always use the robots.txt to circumvent this requirement
- The sitemap needs to be in a format that can be accessed by the web crawlers. This could be XML, RSS, Atom, HTML, Google Slides, or just basic text
- Googlebot’s function should not be obstructed by unnecessary login requirements. You can check if your sitemap is accessible to Googlebot by verifying if you can navigate your way to the sitemap on Incognito mode
Now that the prerequisites are out of the way, all that’s left to do is open the Sitemaps report and enter the URL there. There’s no need to resubmit the sitemap when you make changes. Google recognizes these changes and it reflects in the report accordingly.
In case your sitemap isn’t listed, it could be because it lives in another property altogether. So, you can avoid this issue by making sure to include the different versions of your website while submitting the report.
Some of the other common errors that could be reported are related to:
- URLs not being accessible- It’s better to use the URL inspection tool first before you submit them for consideration
- URLs are not being allowed due to it belonging to a different domain- Look into if all the URLs on your sitemap begin with the same domain as the intended location
- URL being invalid since it may contain unsupported characters or spaces
- Sitemap size exceeding the file size limit of 50 megabytes- You can always try to break the file into smaller sitemaps and list them in a sitemap index file
- Empty sitemap- This is when your sitemap does not contain any URLs at all. So, try to verify if your sitemap is, in fact, empty or if it contains all the necessary files
- Compression error- Try recompressing your sitemap and re-upload the file
Sitemaps are an integral part of any website. An index of all the URLs makes it easier for web crawlers to scout your website. This little step can go a long way in ensuring that your website pops up first on the search engine results page when someone searches a related term. Though the location of the sitemap can vary from one web hosting service to another, the methods to find out where it may remain the same. You can either manually search for the files or use advanced search operators to achieve that objective.