Is a Sitemap Necessary for SEO or is it a Huge Waste Of Time?

Do I need a sitemap for SEO?

When you’re first starting your SEO journey, you’ll learn about adding a page called a sitemap. You’ll scratch your head, have no idea what a sitemap is, and you’ll wonder if it’s really necessary for good SEO. Half of the SEO guru’s will tell you it’s critical for your website performance while the other half will tell you it’s a complete waste a time. As with all things, the answer probably sits somewhere in the middle.

Is a sitemap necessary for SEO? A sitemap isn’t necessary for SEO if your site is well established and easy to navigate. If you have a brand new site with little authority, a really big site with a lot of pages, planning on moving your site to a new domain, or your site has poor internal linking—a sitemap might be necessary for improved SEO.

Whether or not you need a sitemap is something to consider. However, we believe understanding why you need a sitemap and learning how to add a sitemap to your website are the first steps. We hope to answer your questions here on both of those fronts.

Is a sitemap necessary for SEO?

Probably not.

But you said sitemaps were good? Yes, I did say sitemaps are good and they are. But here’s the deal: search engines are smart and getting smarter everyday. Big data advancements coupled with improved website crawling has given search engines the ability to understand your site without your sitemap.

With or without your sitemap, search engines like Google and Bing will eventually visit your site, visit each page, crawl the words, and index your site. Once indexed, you may receive visitors to your site if search engines perceive your content as relevant.

Google has even gone out and stated on their website:

If your site’s pages are properly linked, our web crawlers can usually discover most of your site.

Search Console (Google)

So there you go, words from the titan of search. Search engines like Google, Bing, Safari, Explorer, or Firefox will eventually find your site and index the pages—even if you never create a sitemap.

With that being said, there are some instances where a sitemap is beneficial.

4 reasons you might want a sitemap

  1. New site: If your site is new (less than 6 months), a sitemap is beneficial. Search engines might not have gotten around to crawling your site and submitting a sitemap is great way to “ping” search engines and let them know you’re the new kid on the block. Sites with few external links (other websites linking to your website) can really benefit from this.
  2. Big site: If your site is really large and has tons of content, a sitemap can make indexing your site easier. Search engines crawl data to the best of their ability, but they can skip over data inadvertently. You can help minimize this content neglect by submitting a great sitemap.
  3. Poor linking: If your site is older, larger, and pages aren’t internally linked properly—a sitemap is useful. Search engines like to see pages on your site linked to other pages on your site because it helps to establish content awareness and relevance. If you’ve not done much internal linking, a sitemap can help makeup for this missing SEO opportunity. And, if you haven’t done much internal linking, you need to start.
  4. Site change: If you’ve made big changes to your website like deleting a lot of pages, eliminating content, changing URL’s, or reorganizing menus, it’s a great idea to submit a new sitemap.

As you can see, a sitemap can help your site in quite a few ways. Having a sitemap is never a bad idea and search engines will never penalize you for having one.

Think of a sitemap as a good thing to do with very little downside other than time spent.

Benefits of a sitemap

Sitemaps aren’t required, but they can be really helpful to search engines. Think of it like this, search engines have to crawl your websites and understand what messages you are trying to convey.

They are scanning your words and pages and trying to put a puzzle together. If you have hundreds of thousands of words, that puzzle can be really complex. And, the more substantial your niche, the more topics you’ll cover.

A sitemap helps them to scan pages and show them how pages relate to each other. It’s not essential, but it’s helpful. And if a search engine is responsible for your income, it’s always good to be helpful.

helpful bill murray GIF by Space Jam

Sitemaps also give you a content overview of your site. They can show you how all of your posts look from a macro perspective.

Every so often I’ll look over my sitemap and see if there are any glaring gaps. Did I create too much content over here and not enough over there?

Lastly, sitemaps helps to shine a little spotlight on your site to search engines. No one is saying that a sitemap will be the specific reason search engines start rewarding with you traffic, but it’s good to be the kid in class who raises their hand every now and then to absorb some spotlight—especially when it’s final exam time.

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a website map that tells a search engine all about the pages on your site. Each page has a different URL, content, videos, and information specific to that page. And chances are, your site has a topical theme.

A sitemap isn’t complex, it’s really just a listing of pages by category and content. It looks rather boring to be honest.

Image result for sitemap
Courtesy of wcifly

By providing a sitemap, you are telling the search engine what your site content theme is, how the pages fit together, and giving them a FastPass (Disney reference 😏) into your website structure.

A sitemap is a bit like a building blueprint. If you are sitting outside of a building, you’d have no idea how many rooms, offices, bathrooms, or closets it has. You’d have no idea what the layout is or whether or not they even do what the sign says.

The same goes for your website. Search engines don’t take your web address and automatically assume what you do. If they did, they’d think was an actual bakery instead of WordPress software company. Likewise, they’d think was more like National Geographic than a marketplace.

Search engines crawl your site, analyze each word, bunch them into keywords, crunch the numbers, and then send the right traffic to your site. This is why a sitemap is helpful.

It helps search engines to crawl your site a little bit better.

From a more technical perspective, a sitemap is usually a plain HTML file with a listing of all the major pages and content from a website. Sitemaps can help separate specific elements as well such as Adobe Flash and Javascript elements.

Technical details of a Sitemap

Even more technical, Sitemaps can tell search engines which pages aren’t meant to be crawled (duplicate content/non-functional pages). As your site grows, there will be “back-of-the-house” pages that you don’t want search engines to recommend when people are searching. You can label these pages NOINDEX and search engines will ignore them.

More than NOINDEX, you can also state NOFOLLOW links as well in your sitemap. NOFOLLOW links are when you don’t want search engines to follow the link and award it points, value, or authority.

For example, you might put a link on your website that is important to the page, but you don’t want a search engine to see that page as a relationship to yours. It’s sort of like someone giving you a vote but telling you it doesn’t really count (electoral college anyone?).

How do I create a sitemap on my website?

Creating a sitemap isn’t hard at all. Some website platforms do this for you and others you will need a few things to get going.

Before you start creating a sitemap, your content management system (CMS) may have already created one for you.

How to know if I already have a sitemap?

  1. Type in your domain name in the web browser (ex:
  2. Add the following extension /sitemap.xml (ex: surfingwithbananas/sitemap.xml)
  3. Press return/enter/search
  4. If webpage pops up and looks like a directory, you have a sitemap my friend.

If the site returns an error, you do not have a sitemap. Fear not, we’ve got you covered. Continue reading below to setup your sitemap.

How to create a sitemap on WordPress (All in One SEO)

  1. Go to plugins and download All in One SEO
  2. Once activated, click on All in One SEO from the left navigation menu
  3. Click on Feature Manager
  4. Activate Sitemap (It’s free)
  5. Click on All in One SEO from the left navigation menu again
  6. Click on Sitemap from the menu
  7. Configure and press save
  8. Your sitemap will now be YourWebsiteAddress/sitemap.xml

I know the configuration can be a little bit daunting, so I’ve included a video here to guide you through it 😁.

How to create a sitemap on WordPress (Yoast)

  1. Go to plugins and download Yoast
  2. Once activated, click on SEO from the left hand menu
  3. Click on General
  4. Click on Features in the tabs menu
  5. Turn the XML Sitemaps feature ON. It will be a toggle switch.
  6. Click save changes
  7. Your sitemap will now be YourWebsiteAddress/sitemap.xml

To help make this easier, check this video out on Yoast sitemaps. Ashley Faulkes of Mad Lemmings does a great job going through the nuances.

If you don’t have WordPress site, chances are you have one of the following content management systems. Each of these CMS’s create their own sitemap for you which is a great benefit.

Let’s dig into each one and help you create your first sitemap.

How to find your sitemap on Weebly

  1. Type in your domain name in the web browser (ex:
  2. Add the following extension /sitemap.xml (ex:
  3. Press return/enter/search
  4. This should take you to your sitemap and it will also be your sitemap URL for submission

How to find your sitemap on WIX

  1. Type in your domain name in the web browser (ex:
  2. Add the following extension /sitemap.xml (ex:
  3. Press return/enter/search
  4. This should take you to your sitemap and it will also be your sitemap URL for submission

How to find your sitemap on SquareSpace

  1. Type in your domain name in the web browser (ex:
  2. Add the following extension /sitemap.xml (ex:
  3. Press return/enter/search
  4. This should take you to your sitemap and it will also be your sitemap URL for submission

*Be aware that some SquareSpace accounts have Squarespace in the site name (ex: http//

How to find your sitemap on Shopify

  1. Type in your domain name in the web browser (ex:
  2. Add the following extension /sitemap.xml (ex:
  3. Press return/enter/search
  4. This should take you to your sitemap and it will also be your sitemap URL for submission

Do I have to upload my sitemap to search engines?

Once you have a sitemap, the big search engines will eventually find it, crawl it, and index your site. When they find it, it will help them better understand how your pages fit together.

However, if you’ve gone through the trouble of creating a sitemap, you might as well submit one to Google or Bing. This could lead to faster site crawling and earlier search engine rankings.

How to submit a sitemap to Google Search Console

  1. If you don’t have Google Search Console, you’ll need to sign up and link your

Related Questions

What are the best WordPress extensions for sitemaps? We really like AllinOneSEO and Yoast to create sitemaps. Not only do they do a great job creating sitemaps, they’re also great tools to help you structure each post for maximum SEO performance.

Do I need to keep resubmitting sitemaps with new posts? You don’t need to keep resubmitting sitemaps with each new post or small website change.

However, if you are adding posts in bulk for a NEW website (more than 15 posts in a day), changed the navigation of your website (new menus, tags, categories, etc), or you have substantially altered your website (new core pages, deleted tons of pages, or added a ton of product pages) then you may want to submit a new sitemap.

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