What are XML Sitemaps?
Your XML Sitemap is a file that sits in the route of your site.
Its purpose is to list all the pages within your site that you want Google and other search engines to be aware of, crawl and index.
What to bear in mind when creating this file
When using a tool to generate this file you may find that the default setting is to include every single page included in your site within the sitemap.
If you include pages you have blocked in your Robots.txt file for example, this will cause a conflict and will create errors or warnings within your Google Search Console account.
Your XML Sitemap tool may also include pages that you aren’t necessarily wanting to block but don’t hold much importance. For example, category pages from your blog.
Try and be aware of this when creating your sitemap and look to only include the important pages from your site. Ideally, you want Google and other search engines to provide most of their focus to these.
Review the tool you are using and see what options are available. Most will give you complete control as to which pages are included.
The more generic the tool the fewer options you may have.
Keep it up to date
It is important this file is also kept up to date.
Over time you may add more pages to your site, add more products or you may have a blog that is continually being updated.
You need to make sure all updates are included in your XML Sitemap file.
Some plugins, especially for WordPress will automatically update your file every time you set a new page live. However, this isn’t always the case.
Google Search Console
Once you have your XML Sitemap uploaded to your site. Make sure you also submit it to your Google Search Console account.
Once this is done and Google has accessed the file you will be able to see whether there are any errors, conflicts or problems that you need to look into.
You will also be informed as to how many pages have been crawled and indexed.