From our forthcoming ebook 'SEO Basics for Magento Commerce (Magento 2)' by Ecommerce Solution Specialist, Jake Rainbow, this extract focuses on the importance, uses and creation of sitemaps in Magento Commerce.

XML Sitemaps

What is an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a file that can list all pages and images on your website, along with when they were last updated and how often they should be crawled. Google has excellent documentation to learn about sitemaps.

Why have an XML sitemap?

Sitemaps exist to help search engines crawl your website more efficiently and effectively. Although it is possible to rely on the internal linking structure of your site (and external links) for your pages to be crawled, the sitemap helps to give search engines full visibility of all your pages.

An XML sitemap is essential for:
  • Websites with many pages and images as internal linking can be harder to achieve in balance with UX.
  • New websites with few external links. Fewer links can equal a lower chance of pages being found.
  • A large number of isolated or archived pages, such as blog content, where they don’t easily reference each other or are not referenced by the main ecommerce site.
How do you create an XML sitemap in Magento?

Magento has native features for creating and configuring sitemaps:

With a Magento XML sitemap you are able to:
  • Set the filename and path.
  • Add a frequency per page type (not per page).
  • Include the priority per page type (not per page).
  • Select whether to include product images in the sitemap or not.
  • Select if the sitemap should be included in the Robots.txt (which you could also do manually).
  • Choose generation settings such as frequency and start time.
  • Configure error reporting - who should it email, who it should come from and the template of that email.
What about the ability to include and exclude specific URLs?

Magento XML sitemaps have a wide variety of features but they don’t cover every possible requirement. If you need more granular control of your sitemap and wish to control exactly what products and pages can or can’t appear then modules such as the below cover these requirements:

HTML Sitemaps

What is an HTML Sitemap?

Different from an XML sitemap, an HTML sitemap is a user-friendly page or set of pages designed to display the hierarchy of the website, with links to every page. An HTML sitemap is designed to give bots an understanding of a site's structure and give both users and bots easy access to all URLs.    

Are HTML Sitemaps still useful for SEO?

This depends who you listen to. John Mueller in 2019 stated on Reddit that HTML sitemaps aren’t needed for small sites and wouldn’t be useful for large sites. Furthermore, if a user is using one it actually shows your site navigation and structure isn’t up to scratch. 

However, if you read through the comments and have recently received a technical SEO audit you may find it is still being recommended on a case by case basis, just with a lower priority.

Can you create an HTML sitemap in Magento? 

To add an HTML sitemap to Magento you’d need to install a module. Here are some potential options that would allow you to generated a Magento HTML sitemap and have advanced features such as controlling what pages can be included, the order of the URLs, split sitemaps by storeviews and include custom links, etc.: