Call Us: 01252 217141
  • September 3rd 2013
  • SEO

XML Sitemap. Am I Bovvered?

sitemap diagram


As an SEO, I run a lot of SEO audits. A lot. I use a tool like woorank (free tool, check it out!) to quickly check out a website, and see what it’s missing or could be improved to get it ranked better in Google.

And the [pullquote]3 top things I find missing 6 times out of 10 are an XML sitemap, a robots.txt file and a www redirect.[/pullquote] All 3 of these are important to make a website more Google friendly, but I want to focus on the XML sitemap:

  1. what it is
  2. why your website needs one
  3. how to get one (easier than you think, honest)
  4. and how to tell Google where it is (the bonus ball!)

What is an XML Sitemap?

This website has one. Check it out here: If you click on the first item in the list,, it gives you a list of all the pages or posts (and all sorts of other things like images and attachments if necessary) in a nice easy list.

Much like a non-fiction book will have a table contents at the start detailing all the sections in the book, an XML sitemap does the same for a website.

Why do I need an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is not for human beings, but for Google to quickly find all the content on your website, and hopefully rank it in their search results. In fact, here’s the official line from Google’s guidelines on XML sitemaps.

Won’t Google Just Find My Content Anyway?

They might do, as the Google spider crawls around websites looking at content. So they might go to your homepage, then find all the links there to your other pages and find those, no problem.

But, they might not find all your lovely web pages. If you think of it from Google’s point of view, there are millions and millions of websites out there. Can you imagine how much power and IT hardware Google needs to crawl all those websites, and then compute the results. It’s mind boggling how much. So it wouldn’t be surprising to find out that Google tries to make that crawling process more efficient. What business wouldn’t do the same to save on IT resources and a bit on the electricity bill !

So Google doesn’t always visit every single page on your website. And if the pages don’t change that often, the Google spider will pass by less often. It’s rumoured Google only follows 10-12 links from your homepage, so if you have more pages than that, it’s likely Google isn’t finding it all. Google likes XML Sitemaps because it’s an efficient way of finding all of the content on a website. [pullquote position=”right”]You the website owner are saying “Here’s my website content, Google. Come and get it!”[/pullquote].

Won’t an HTML Sitemap Work Just as Well?

Maybe. But Google has asked for the XML format because it can index it much more quickly and efficiently. And why risk Google NOT finding stuff on your website you’ve spent hours working on? Why did you spend all that time on it, if you DIDN’T want people to find it when searching on Google?

How Do I Check If I Have an XML Sitemap Already?

Easy. I’d recommend using this tool to check if you already have an XML Sitemap on your website. If you don’t, read on.

How Do I Create an XML Sitemap?

Yoast wordpress plugin called wordpress SEO does what says on the tin

WordPress plugin called wordpress SEO does what says on the tin

If you’re running a WordPress website, it’s very easy. Install a plug in called WordPress SEO and it will automatically generate an XML Sitemap for you. I use it for all my client’s websites and it’s fantastic. It does so much more, and really helps guide you with writing web content which is optimised for Google. My life as an SEO would be so much harder without it !

For a Joomla website, I’d recommend xmap or jcrawler. For Drupal, it starts to get more complicated, but here’s some guidance. Other content management systems (CMSs) will have there own XML sitemap generators, or your webmaster could also manually install an xml sitemap using a manual generator. This is better than nothing, but it won’t automatically update when you add new content.

Bonus Ball: Tell Google Where Your XML Sitemap Is !

Don't leave it to chance - tell Google where your sitemap is using Google Webmaster Tools

Don’t leave it to chance – tell Google where your sitemap is using Google Webmaster Tools

Google should be able to find your XML sitemap, but why leave it to chance. There is a simple way to tell Google where it is, and at the same time, Google will tell you whether it’s in the right format and whether it has indexed all the pages. Here is the guidance from Google on how to do this, using Google Webmaster Tools. (don’t forget to use the WordPress SEO plug in mentioned above to quickly verify your website in webmaster tools.)

I Need Help!

If you’ve got stuck or need help or advice, please ping me in the comments below. Hopefully I can help you get your XML sitemap installed on your website and found by Google in no time.

Geoff Roy
  • "As part of the service, the team at Leapfrog reviewed one of my websites for SEO and presented their findings in video format. I’ve never seen anything like this before and I could see the results of the tests and clear recommendations for action. I can thoroughly recommend this part of Leapfrog's service!!"

    Peter Clarke, PPG Proofreading
  • "One area in which Leapfrog has excelled is communication. Any queries are always promptly dealt with and we also receive excellent monthly reporting, with videos that clearly explain our progress. This is great as it gives us a clear picture of what’s going on."

     Leigh Emmerson, Voice Fairy
  • “Leapfrog provides fantastic video reports, to help explain the topline results. As SEO is a hidden science, this has made the whole process a lot clearer.”

    Rebecca Couture, Rebecca Couture Millinery
  • "When it comes to organic SEO, Leapfrog's your company. Thanks for everything you've done for my business."

    Paul Deach, Deachy Social Media
  • "Over a 6-month period, we’ve improved from a position of no ranking at all, to achieving page 1 rankings for our key search term. In a highly competitive market, this is really impressive and has already increased our organic traffic by more than 400% over a 6-month period. We can definitely recommend Leapfrog to other businesses struggling to get seen by Google."

    Leigh Emmerson, Voice Fairy
  • "Leapfrog Internet Marketing has been key in supporting my clients, providing SEO services to allow them to achieve increased and more qualified traffic to their sites. I've worked with Geoff and the team on several different sized projects and am very pleased with the results achieved. I highly recommend Leapfrog Internet Marketing for your online SEO needs."

    Oliver Schlieben, Digital Marketing Strategist
  • “The company is really helpful and approachable and you’re never made to feel embarrassed when asking questions.”

    Rebecca Couture, Rebecca Couture Millinery
  • "Leapfrog Internet Marketing has been a key resource in providing insights and strategies within the SEO arena. Their work is always of a very high standard and always delivered on time. I would have no hesitation in recommending Leapfrog to any business."

    Drew Griffiths, Mosaic
  • "I've been benefitting from Leapfrog’s expertise and experience for several months now and really value the way in which they make knowledge so accessible. We've worked on improving website authority and content, list building and social media optimisation. A great company to work with and very good value."

    Chris Farrance, Frontier Digital Business Consultants
  • "Month-on-month we’ve seen fantastic improvements. Over the first 6-month period, search traffic has increased by over 550%. We've achieved page 1 rankings for at least 85 keywords relating to our key products, the site is now found on Google nearly 5000 times per month and an additional 800+ users visit the site monthly."

    Rebecca Couture, Rebecca Couture Millinery
  • "The team at Leapfrog has been able to keep an eye on our site, using their specialised knowledge to not only spot any invisible problems that will affect SEO and site speed, but also identify any coding errors. This kind of value-added benefit is a great asset and makes a real difference for our company."

    Leigh Emmerson, Voice Fairy
  • "Leapfrog Internet Marketing have been working on our website for 6+ months now and we have certainly seen the benefits of professional SEO. Organic leads have significantly increased in line with our Google position and ranking. I’d highly recommend Geoff and the team at Leapfrog Internet Marketing."

    Mark Dalton, The Tech Lounge
  • “We’re really happy with Leapfrog Internet Marketing. We feel every step has been clearly explained, the communication is excellent and we’ve seen month-on-month improvements that have converted to enquiries and those all-important sales. We’ve definitely received the return on investment we were looking for.”

    Rebecca Couture, Rebecca Couture Millinery