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An XML Sitemap is a file, available in a format designed by Google in 2005 , quickly joined by Microsoft and Yahoo! in 2006. This file lists the URLs of a website by optionally offering a certain number of related information for each of them (date of last modification, frequency of update, etc.) in order to provide them to the engine to get a better crawl of the site.
The purpose of an XML Sitemap file is to complement (not replace) the natural crawl of a site by search engine robots by providing the most comprehensive possible list of important pages on a given website.
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The only required field is the URL of the page (loc). You can also and optionally provide the last modification date (lastmod), the update frequency (changefreq) and the indexing priority (priority). It is also possible to indicate other information such as the images or videos contained in the page, as well as the target country and language (hreflang), etc.
The bigger the site, the more important the XML Sitemap is to ensure that the engine crawl is of the best possible quality. But given the ease of creating these files now, we can estimate that any website must offer one.
Initially, it was done by hand. Then tools for creating XML Sitemap files in "one shot" (Sitemap generators) were proposed.
Use our free tool to easily generate XML sitemap to notify search engines including Google, Bing, and Yandex, about all your web pages and any changes in them, and make sure all your pages are correctly indexed.
The best is to submit these files in Search Console (Google) and Webmaster Tools (Bing) to subsequently obtain from these engines and within these tools a dashboard of accepted and refused URLs, containing errors, etc.
An isolated file can contain up to 50,000 URLs. But it is possible to create Sitemaps Indexes, parent files including several child files (up to 50,000) each having the maximum size. Using this functionality, the total size of URLs submitted through this way is therefore 2.5 billion.
The two major engines, Google and Bing, take them into account. Yandex (Russia) and Baidu (China) also accept them.
There are two possibilities to submit these files: either by tools such as Search Console or Webmasters Tools, as seen previously or by indicating the mention “Sitemap:” followed by the URL of the file in the robots.txt file. The two methods are complementary and one does not replace the other. The option of robots.txt is especially valid for engines that do not have a tool for webmasters.
The Internet site map is a web page designed for visitors to a site. It is found in the tree structure (most often linked from the home page) and offers many links to the pages of the site. The XML Sitemaps, on the other hand, is a specific file, in XML format (or sometimes TXT if it only contains a list of URLs) designed only for engines. It cannot be found in the site tree. The two are complementary and important for SEO.
If the name of the file is often titled "sitemap.xml", it is absolutely not mandatory. Its name is free, as is its location on the server and therefore its URL.
The official site for this format is available at Sitemaps.org.
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