Both Search Engine Crawlers and People browsing your website might find a sitemap helpful.
It helps them find all the pages on your website and understand the hierarchy of your website's content.
In this article, I will show you several ways to find the sitemap of any website.
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the pages on your website.
It helps Search Engine crawlers discover pages on your website more easily. It also helps the crawlers to understand the type of content you have on your website like pages, images, posts, files (like pdf's).
XML Sitemaps also contain information (metadata) about each of the URLs in it. It can tell the search engines:
- When was the page last modified (Last Modified)
- The priority of the page in the sitemap (Priority)
- How often the page is updated (Change Frequency)
An XML Sitemap is limited to 50 MB or 50,000 URLs, which means if you exceed that number, you have to create more sitemap files. Most moderns CMS's do this automatically for you.
If you have a lot of sitemaps, you will also need a Sitemap Index File to host your individual sitemaps in.
There are also two kind of sitemaps, HTML and XML.
Why It is Important to Find a Sitemap?
It's important to find a sitemap on your website since it helps search crawlers know what content is available on your website, and which pages to index.
If you would like to find the sitemap of another website, it can be important since it is the easiest way of uncovering and reverse engineering what kind of content they have.
This can be used to create a content map for your website and outrank your competitors.
Best Ways to Find a Sitemap
There are several easy ways to find and extract URLs from a sitemap. Let's look at them:
Manual Way of Finding a Sitemap
The first method is the easiest way of finding the sitemap of a site. Sitemaps in most cases are located in the same place, especially for the most popular content management systems like WordPress.
If you type this location into your browser, you will be presented with the sitemap of the website.
The most common XML sitemap locations are:
In the case of WordPress, there can be other sitemaps as well, like:
With that said, the XML sitemap can be called anything that you like, so it can change on a site by site basis.
Make sure you test out the most common ones.
Use Google Search Operators
You can use Google Search Operators for a lot of different things, like finding specific content on a website or different websites that mention a word on their page, but they can be used for finding the sitemap of any website as well.
You will need to use the "filetype:" command combined with the "site:" command. This will allow you to find a specific type of file on a specific website.
In our case, the full command would look like this:
This will show every indexed page in the search results that have XML files.
Keep in mind that this only shows you the sitemaps that are actually indexed by Google. If the webmaster has set it to no-index, you will not find it using this method.
Robots.txt is a file that SEOs and webmasters can use to give search engine bots specific instructions, like what they should crawl and what they should not crawl.
Search Engine bots look at this file first when they visit any website.
In the Robots.txt file, you can also specify your sitemaps and since search engine crawlers visit this file, this is an easy way for them to find your sitemaps as well.
But this means that you can find the sitemaps of a website as well. You just simply have to go to yoursite.com/robots.txt and check the txt file.
This is a very easy method to find a sitemap, but the sitemaps are not added by default, so the results can vary.
Google Search Console
If you are trying to find your own sitemap, you can also check the Google Search Console provided by Google.
This only works if you have previously added and verified your website on the platform or you have been granted access to one.
All you have to do is log in to your Google Search Console and click on the sitemaps menu.
If you have already submitted your sitemap before, you will see all of your current sitemaps on the dashboard.
Google Search Console is not only useful for finding your sitemap, but for getting more information about them as well.
It gives you information about the type of the sitemap, when was it submitted, when did Google last crawl it and how many URLs does it have.
It will also show you if you sitemap has any issues that would prevent Google from reading it.
SEO Site Checkup Tool
If you want a completely hands off aproach, you can use a software like the Sitemap Tester from SEO Site Checkup.
This tool allows you to enter a domain and it will automatically check the most common places where a sitemap can be hosted.
Different Types of Sitemaps
There are two main types of Sitemaps that you can have on your website. The first is an XML sitemap, which is mainly for search engines to help them crawl your website and the second is an HTML sitemap, which helps your users navigate on your website.
Both of them are very useful and using both is a good Search Engine Optimization practice.
If You Didn't Find One: Build a Sitemap
If none of the methods in this article work for you, it could mean that you don't have a sitemap at all.
Having a sitemap file is crucial for your SEO optimization as search engines use these crawl your website easier, so you will need to add one.
If you are using WordPress building a sitemap file is actually very easy. You just need to install a plugin, like Yoast SEO plugin or RankMath which has a sitemap tool.
These plugins can automatically generate XML sitemaps.
This means that anytime you add a new page or post, they will be added to your sitemap.
If you have a static website or you are using a custom CMS (Content Management System), you will need to create a sitemap yourself and upload it to your server.
There are several tools to create a sitemap of a website, for example Screaming Frog can generate you one as well.
It crawls your website and then adds all pages of it to your sitemap, which then you can upload.
Which Sitemaps Should you Disable?
There are certain sitemaps that are enabled when you install an SEO Plugin on your website, which are not very useful.
For example, these plugins can generate XML sitemaps for Tags, Elementor Templates, Reviews, Portfolio Pages, and Categories.
These web pages don't need to be indexed or included in your sitemaps, so we recommend removing them.
Are XML sitemaps SEO ranking factors?
No, XML Sitemaps are not ranking factors, but they are very important in an SEO Strategy. It does not directly affect your rankings, but it helps search engines to find their way in around your website better.
How do I download a sitemap from a website?
Downloading the URLs from a sitemap is quite easy. You can do it in several ways:
1.) Save as a PDF: Once you visit the sitemap file, you can print it as a PDF and save it to your computer. Then, you can extract the URLs from that PDF.
2.) Use a Sitemap Extractor Tool: A much easier way is to use a sitemap extractor tool, like the one from Seowl. All you have to do is to pop in the sitemap URL and you can extract the links easily.
Where is the sitemap XML file?
The XML Sitemap file of your website is usually located in the root directory of your website. The name of the XML sitemap can be anything that you want, as long as it is an .XML file.
How do I know if my site has an XML Sitemap?
There are several ways of checking if you website has an XML Sitemap or not, but the easiest is to go to the root folder of your website and type in sitemap.xml, like yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. If that doesn't work, check the other method mentioned in our article.
What does an XML sitemap look like?
The Sitemap file contains all of the URLs of your website's pages. It is a simple page, with a table containing the URLs, Last Modified Date, Frequencies.
How do I find a sitemap in WordPress?
To find the XML sitemap on your WordPress website, you need to go to yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
If you can't find your sitemap there, go to your selected SEO Plugin, like Yoast SEO and check if the sitemaps are enabled or not.
Is an XML sitemap necessary for a domain?
No, it's not necessary but highly recommended.
Does the order of URLs in an XML sitemap matter?
No, it does not matter. There is a priority tag however in the file, which can be added to each URL, which can rank the importance of pages.
How can I implement XML sitemaps for multilingual websites?
You can either create completely individual sitemap files for your different language or you can use the "hreflang" markup in your sitemap to define the language of an URL.
How do I submit an XML sitemap to Google?
You can submit the sitemap of a website in Google Search Console. All you have to do is go to you GSC account, go to the sitemap section and define the location of your sitemap url.