We'd like to use cookies on your device. You can accept our recommended cookies or customize your settings for better functionality.
We'd like to use cookies on your device. You can accept our recommended cookies or customize your settings for better functionality.

How To Boost Your Website's SEO with XML Sitemaps

How XML Sitemaps can help in SEO?

An XML sitemap is one of the most important parts when it comes to technical SEO. Every website owner wants their content to be crawled, indexed, and discovered by Googlebot. Having an XML sitemap not only helps your website get crawled and indexed but also helps with the crawl budget optimization.

What is XML Sitemap?

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language, which is a simple text-based format for representing a piece of structured information. An XML sitemap is designed to carry data, with a focus on what the data is. Search engines primarily use crawlers for indexation and to organize the information on the web and are capable of reading all kinds of information. The XML sitemap makes it easier for the web crawlers to assimilate a piece of information on the website and index it. An XML sitemap essentially covers the site structure as well as a table of contents of your website. XML sitemaps play a significant role in indexation for websites that have a deep website architecture. A website that undergoes frequent changes in the content of existing pages or adding new pages, and lacks strong external link profiles should have an XML sitemap.

An XML sitemap has the following limitations:

  • A sitemap has a limitation of 50,000 URLs.
  • An uncompressed file size limit of 50 MB

What is the purpose of XML sitemaps?

An XML sitemap serves as a guide to your website for search engines and acts as a roadmap of what content is present in which part of the website and how to reach it. It also helps with faster indexation and thus helps in improving the website’s ranking.

It tells the crawlers about the location of a specific page, the relative importance of the page, the date of updating the page as well as the frequency of updates to the page. Here are the most common tags used in XML sitemaps and their respective functions:

XML sitemap

  • <urlset>:- The Sitemap opens and closes with this tag. It is the current protocol standard.
  • <url>:- This tag is the parent tag for each URL entry
  • <loc>http://www.exampledomainname.com/pageone</loc>: - This tag contains an absolute URL or the locator of the page.
  • <lastmod>YYYY-MM-DD</lastmod>: - This contains the date of the content’s last modification and should always be in YYYY-MM-DD format.
  • <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>: - This contains the frequency of change of content.
  • <priority>0.5</priority>: - This indicates the importance of a particular page, and the value ranges from 0.0 to 1.0
  • <xhtml: link>: - This tag contains information related to alternate URLs offered in other languages.

Types of multimedia sitemaps under XML sitemaps:

  • XML Image Sitemaps

It is highly recommended to create an XML image sitemap to host all your images, this can be helpful for e-commerce as well as news and broadcasting websites. Adding an image sitemap makes it easier for Google to discover images that are not otherwise found.

  • XML Video Sitemaps

If your website has a large number of videos, it is always advised to create an XML video sitemap. It can be a great way to help Google discover and understand the video content on your website. In addition, XML video sitemaps can provide additional information like metadata about the video, which also helps increase visibility.

Why should your website have an XML sitemap?

As discussed, XML sitemaps make it easier for search engine crawlers to navigate through your website as well as provide vital information such as the URL location, change frequency, modification date, etc.

If you own a large website consisting of thousands of URLs and a complex website structure, an XML sitemap becomes a necessity. It not only increases the speed of the crawler but also increases the search engine visibility, thus helping faster indexation.

Best practices according to Google’s guidelines for an XML Sitemap

  1. Always use a consistent and fully qualified URL
  2. Ideally, an XML sitemap should be added to the root directory of the website, and all the URLs should come from the same host.
  3. Exclude Session IDs from the URL in the sitemap.
  4. An XML sitemap should not contain redirected URLs or the URLs returning an error status. It should only have canonical versions of all the pages.
  5. When targeting an international audience, always make sure to inform Google regarding alternate languages using hreflang annotations.
  6. An XML sitemap must be UTF-8 encoded
  7. For a large website it is recommended to break huge sitemaps into multiple sitemaps.
  8. Inform Google about different URLs for mobile and desktop versions by using appropriate annotations.
  9. Do not use non-alphanumeric and non-latin characters in your sitemap.
  10. Google pays attention to the <latmod> value if it is consistently accurate.


XML sitemaps primarily act as a way for the crawlers to reach your website content easily and can greatly help your content to be discovered by Google. When you own a large website that is very dynamic in terms of the content it hosts, XML sitemap can help your content get indexed faster. It can help Googlebot find your most important content without spending much time on your website which also helps with crawl budget optimization.

We at Merkle make sure that we do not leave any stone unturned when it comes to SEO strategies and help our clients rank better.