Also in this series:
- Google Shopping Strategy
- Google Merchant Centre Fixes
- Setting Up Shipping in Google Merchant Centre
- Ads/Free Ratio in Google Merchant Centre (Free Listings)
- Availability [availability] in Google Merchant Centre
- European Article Numbers: A Complete Guide
- GTINs and Why You Need Them in Google Shopping
- Excluded Destination [excluded_destination] in Google Merchant Centre
- Google Shopping Free Advertising
- How to Use Google Product Category in Google Shopping
- How to Use Product Type in Google Shopping
- How to Fix Mismatched Value (Page Crawl) [Price]
- Invalid UTF-8 encoding: Merchant Centre Disapproved Products
For all Magento users, you’ll want to ensure that your site has the best chance of ranking highly — allowing you to generate more organic traffic to your website. A website that is visually appealing, has solid branding and is well-optimised from a conversion rate perspective, can only do so much for you. If your site cannot be crawled and indexed effectively, your amazing website is wasted.
Along with other key technical SEO elements, many Magento 2 users will ensure they have a regularly updated sitemap uploaded to search engines. With this, search engines will be able to better crawl and index their websites.
But what exactly is a Magento 2 sitemap? How do you set one up? What Magento 2 sitemap generator should I use?
In this blog, we’ll be answering these questions and discussing all things sitemaps. So grab a coffee, get comfortable, and let’s dive in!
What is an XML sitemap?
An XML sitemap, or even an HTML Sitemap, is a resource which offers a standardised way of listing pages on a site, improving site-wide discoverability for Search Engines like Google. The XML Sitemap should list ALL of a website’s important pages, allowing search engines to discover and understand exactly which pages exist, how the pages link together to form a site architecture, and which are most important to the functionality of your website.
Why do you need a Magento 2 sitemap generator?
It’s a great safety net for all site owners, but it can be particularly advantageous for newer, smaller sites and very large websites. Newer websites are more likely to have an internal linking structure that is sub-optimal. In a regular crawl, search engine bots will find it more difficult to determine which pages are important based on link depth and the subsequent website architecture. Much larger websites, with a high frequency of pages and content, might have crawl complications due to scale and orphaned pages.
With a Magento 2 XML sitemap, crawlers can better understand these websites regardless of their shortcomings.
How to create a sitemap.xml in Magento 2
In Magento versions 2.2 and later, this can be easily done by following these steps:
- Navigate to the Admin panel
- Click on the Marketing menu, and click Site Map in the SEO & Search section
- In the Site Map screen, select Add Sitemap
- Whilst in the New Site Map view, enter the following values:
- Finally, click Save & Generate. Your site map will now be available in the Site Map grid.
How to update your sitemap in Magento 2
XML sitemaps should be regularly updated and uploaded to search engines to give your website the best shot at being discovered.
It’s highly encouraged to tweak your sitemap generation settings to ensure that this is done. To do this, follow these steps:
- Expand the Generation Settings section. If necessary, clear the existing settings in the Use system value checkbox.
- To set the auto-generation of a sitemap, set the Enabled box to Yes and action the following:
- Select Start Time to the hour, minute, and second that you would like your sitemap to be updated.
- Set the Frequency to either: ‘Daily’, ‘Weekly’ or ‘Monthly’
- For Error Mail Recipient, enter the appropriate email address for somebody you would like to receive a notification if there is an error during a sitemap update
- Set the Error Email Sender to your desired ‘sender’ of the error notification
- Set the Error Email Template to the desired template for the error notification message
Additionally, you can also specify sitemap file limits should you wish to. If needed, expand the Sitemap File Limits. Here, you can specify the maximum number of URLs per file and the maximum file size.
How to configure the frequency and priority of content updates in your sitemap
In Magento 2, you can set up the auto-generation of sitemap content. To do this, follow these steps.
- Navigate to the admin sidebar and select Stores > Settings > Configuration
- On the left-side panel, expand the Catalog and select XML Sitemap
- Expand the Categories Options and set the frequency as desired (more frequent updates mean your sitemap will more accurately reflect live changes). As well as this, for Priority, enter a value between 0.0 and 1.0 (Zero has the lowest priority in this instance)
- Expand the Products Options and set the frequency and priority as desired
- To allocate the extent at which images are included in the sitemap, set Add Images into Sitemap to either: ‘None’, ‘Base Only’ or ‘All’
- Expand the CMS Pages Options and set the frequency and priority as desired
- Expand the Store URL Options and set the frequency and priority as desired
- Once finished, click Save Config
How to submit your sitemap to search engines
As mentioned above, submitting your sitemap to search engines regularly is highly important. This can be done manually by providing them with the link to the sitemap.xml file. To copy the link in Magento 2, simply do the following:
- Go to the Site Map list, right-click the URL in the Link for Google column
- On this menu, select Copy Link Address
Google has a great short guide on how to keep your sitemap up to date in their search engine using Google Search Console. We’d recommend following this to frequently update your sitemap in Google Search Console.
To ensure maximum discoverability, it’s a good idea to do this for other search engines too. Here’s a quick guide to managing this for Bing’s Webmaster Tools.
Is a separate Magento 2 sitemap generator necessary?
Magento 2 allows you to:
- Generate your sitemap within it
- Set it to automatically update at whichever internal you wish
- Specify the frequency and priority of which content gets updated
Is an extension or plugin needed to generate a sitemap?
It really depends on your business requirements and how advanced you need your sitemap customisation to be. There are extensions and plugins that allow for more advanced customisation and functionality.
For example, the Sitemap Suite Extension for Magento 2 by Mageworx allows users to create separate sitemaps for different store views, split all store links by categories, include CMS pages, set the maximum category depth level, etc. Functionality such as this can be useful for eCommerce websites with more specific requirements. If you’re unsure whether you need this, it’s a great idea to consult an expert Magento SEO agency to assist you in the management of your Magento 2 website.
In summary, an XML sitemap functions as a great safety net to ensure that your website can be properly crawled and indexed — giving you the best chance of being discovered and increasing your organic traffic. For this to happen, sitemaps need to be updated and uploaded to search consoles regularly.
Magento 2’s inbuilt sitemap support will generate and update your sitemap automatically and the frequency of this can be adjusted to suit your needs. However, it doesn’t include functionality for this to be automatically uploaded to search engines — this will have to be done manually.