How to find your sitemap
How to find your sitemap for your website is just a matter of looking in the right places. If one exists, these steps will help you find it 99% of the time.
Note that we’re talking about an XML sitemap throughout this article.
What is an XML Sitemap?
An XML Sitemap is a list of your website URLs provided for search engines. It’s written in a code format outlined by sitemaps.org who are the authority on XML sitemaps.
Why do I need to find my sitemap?
You’ll want to find your XML sitemap for your website to check that you have one, check that it is valid, and then submit the URL to search engines.
Best practice is to put the sitemap file in the root folder of the domain.
But it can be kept anywhere, even on another domain!
Having a sitemap isn’t compulsory, but it does help search engines find and index new websites or updated webpages in a faster way.
How to find your sitemap
The first three most basic places to find your sitemap are:
- Try typing in your domain name e.g. https://writemaps.com with the following endings
- Try typing in your domain name e.g. https://writemaps.com plus /robots.txt
Tip: replace 'writemaps.com' with your domain name
Look in the robots.txt file for the sitemap URL, as it is standard practice to put it here because it is the first place search engines look.
- Do a site search on google by typing your site and a search for the XML type of file into the search engine
e.g. "site:writemaps.com filetype:xml"
If you get a lot of results from that search, you could refine the search further. Try adding a criteria to have ‘sitemap’ in the URL
e.g. "site:writemaps.com filetype:xml inurl:sitemap"
Advanced – how to find your sitemap
If none of the basic techniques worked, then you can try using a web crawling service to look for your sitemap.
A quick and easy one to try is SEO Site Checkup’s sitemap tool – just put your URL in and let them see if they can find your sitemap.
Secondly, you could try creating a Free account at Spotibo, and crawling your website. Then you would need to look through at just the XML file types to see if you have a sitemap.
How to find your sitemap on Shopify and Squarespace
Shopify and Squarespace both automatically generate XML sitemaps. And both platforms put them in a sitemap.xml file in the root folder of your domain. So try typing this directly into your browser:
Tip: Replace 'yourwebsite.com' with your domain name
This sitemap file can often act like a sitemap index page and link to further sitemaps which when taken all together list the URLs of your website.
Like any good platform or plugin, these sitemaps are automatically updated within 24 hours when you add new pages or content. It isn’t possible to edit the sitemap directly.
When setting up Google Search Console, you may need to verify ownership of your site before you can submit your sitemap.
On Shopify, you’ll need to follow their step by step guide to adding the google-site-verification meta tag to your website.
Squarespace offer a slightly different methods to also verify your site with google search console, so that you can then submit your sitemap.
How to find your sitemap on WordPress
WordPress doesn’t automatically create XML sitemaps, and this job is normally done by a plugin.
If you are setting your website up for the first time then chances are you won’t have a sitemap.
If someone else has been involved with making your website, then you may already have a sitemap plugin in action.
Most plugins will put your sitemap at either /sitemap, /sitemap.xml or /sitemap_index.xml – so try quickly try looking there or in the yourwebsite.com/robots.txt file for a sitemap URL first.
Otherwise, Log In to your WordPress admin area, and look around in these places:
- “Plugins” – take a look at your active plugins to see which might be sitemap-related. If one is, then you should be able to read its documentation to find where to change it’s settings.
- “Tools” or “Settings – and you are looking for something like ‘Sitemap’ or “XML Sitemap’
- “SEO” > “XML Sitemaps” – if you already have the Yoast SEO plugin (which is extremely common), then this is where you make sure the XML sitemap auto-creation is enabled.
What happens next?
If you can’t find a sitemap, then you might need to create a sitemap.
If you have found your sitemap, then you’ll want to make sure that Google knows about it. See these steps to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console.
These tips should have you well on your way to finding your sitemap and letting search engines know about it.
Good luck out there in the wild, wild, web…