Slickplan

How to find a sitemap: Learn 5 ways, step-by-step

Struggling to locate a website’s sitemap? Whether you’re enhancing your site’s SEO, troubleshooting indexing issues or just curious about a site’s layout, finding a sitemap doesn’t have to be a challenge. In most cases, it’s pretty easy to find.

In this guide on how to find a sitemap, we’ll give you several quick and effective methods to discover any website’s sitemap with a focus primarily on XML sitemaps.

Expect practical insights on using website footers, directory searches and search engine tools to access this crucial data.

If you’re more of a visual learner, we go over some of the key insights in this video:

Key Takeaways

  • What is a sitemap? Sitemaps are crucial for your website’s SEO and navigation as they help search engines crawl and index web pages more effectively while helping users find content more easily.
  • A website’s HTML sitemap can typically be located by checking the website’s footer.
  • An XML sitemap can be found by adding ‘/sitemap.xml’ to the domain, checking the robots.txt file, using Google search operators or with tools like SEO Site Checkup, Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
  • If your website lacks a sitemap, you can create one using tools like Yoast SEO for WordPress, Slickplan’s XML sitemap generator or by manually coding a list of URLs and validating it before adding it.

Locating a sitemap

Navigating how to find a sitemap is easier than you think and there are several ways to crack the case, we’ll start from the simple and move to the more complex.

1. Check the most common XML sitemap locations

Unlike your HTML sitemap which is going to live in your website’s footer, your XML sitemap won’t be as visible since it’s designed for a search engine to use.

The most common XML sitemap location is the root directory of your domain and it’s the first place search engines look when they’re ready to crawl and index a website.

The simplest way to check is by adding the following bolded text to your website’s domain:

  • slickplan.com/sitemap
  • slickplan.com/sitemap_index.xml
  • slickplan.com/sitemap.xml (this is where ours is)

Portion of an XML sitemap

Those are the most common URLs but if your XML sitemap doesn’t pop up, you can try others, like:

  • /sitemap1.xml
  • /sitemap/sitemap.xml
  • /sitemapindex.xml

2. Investigate the robots.txt file

The robots.txt file is a text file that lives in your root directory that tells search engine crawlers which pages they can access and other instructions.

It’s also an ideal place to find a website’s sitemap file.

To see if the sitemap of a website is there, type the URL and add "/robots.txt", like this:
slickplan.com/robots.txt

URL with robots.txt path highlighted

If it is, you’ll see the location clearly labeled after "Sitemap".

robots.txt file with sitemap location highlights

3. Use Google search operators to find your sitemap

If you’re still unable to locate the sitemap file, don’t fret, Google has your back.

By using Google search operators, those fancy commands that let you narrow down your search results based on specific file types or keywords, you can zero in on sitemap XML files.

Here’s how mastering search operators can expedite your sitemap search:

  • Use the "site:" operator followed by the website domain and "filetype:xml" to target and narrow down the relevant search results.

For the NFL, it would look like this:

Google search for NFL.com sitemap using search operators for site and filetype

  • Use "site:" plus "ext:XML"

Site and ext search operators highlighted for finding NFL.com sitemap

  • Use "site:" plus "inurl:XML"

Site and inurl search operators highlighted for finding NFL.com sitemap

  • Use "site:" plus "ext:XML" plus "inurl:sitemap"

Site, ext and inurl search operators highlighted for finding NFL.com sitemap

4. Online tools to find your sitemap

If the above methods aren’t cutting it, you can go the more advanced route of using an online tool to get to that sitemap view.

SEO Site Checkup

SEO Site Checkup user interface

Designed specifically for sitemap discovery and site search, the SEO Site Checkup tool is a simple way to confirm a sitemap’s presence on a website and, if present, provides its URL.

Just enter your website URL then click "Checkup" and the tool will then analyze your site and show you your sitemap URL (plus a ton of other search engine optimization info), saving you the effort of manually searching for it.

But, it’s not a free sitemap finder.

You can also check for a sitemap with a sitemap validator.

Slickplan’s XML Sitemap Validator user interface

Webmaster resources: Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools

On the other hand, these tools from Google and Bing are both indispensable for website management and free. These platforms are also where you’ll submit your XML sitemaps to enhance the effectiveness of crawling and indexing.

Of course, these are only options if you own the website you want to get a sitemap for.

Navigating these tools is straightforward, in both Bing and GSC, here’s the process to view a website sitemap:

  • Login
  • Pick your site
  • Click "Sitemaps"
  • See the list of submitted sitemaps

Submitted sitemaps highlighted in Google Search Console

5. Take a look at the CMS

The content management system a site uses can give you hints on how to find a sitemap.

You can pop onto WhatCMS and enter the site you’re looking for and it’ll give you the CMS in a few seconds.

The CMSs that create an automatic sitemap file, which is most of them, tend to keep the XML file at /sitemap.xml (after your website’s URL).

If it’s WordPress, the default sitemap will likely be at /wp-sitemap.xml.

🎬 Learn what Slickplan can do!

We filmed a short video to show you exactly how to use Slickplan

Creating your own sitemap

Slickplan’s XML sitemap created manually

If a website doesn’t have a sitemap, it’s like a library without a catalog or, worse, a restaurant without a menu.

Don’t worry though, you can craft your own in seconds with a plugin or, if you like a challenge, you can manually create one.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO, among other plugins, has transformed the sitemap generation process for websites built on WordPress. Apart from sitemap generation capabilities, it also offers an array of content optimization tools.

And while WordPress does create an XML sitemap automatically as of 2020, a lot of sites, like 5+ million, use Yoast SEO instead to create a more complete one.

It’s very straightforward, just enable the XML sitemaps feature in the settings, customize the related settings, and voila, your sitemap is ready.

Slickplan XML Sitemap Generator

You can automatically generate xml sitemaps by using our site crawler to compile a complete list of URLs for your XML sitemap.

Check out our free XML sitemap generator.

Building from scratch: Manual sitemap creation

For those who enjoy a more direct (and more painful) approach, manually creating a sitemap remains an option.

Creating a sitemap manually for web crawlers involves the following steps:

  1. Review the structure of your website pages
  2. Code your URLs appropriately
  3. Validate the code to check for any errors
  4. Once the sitemap is ready, add it to the website’s root directory
  5. Reference it in the robots.txt file

Beyond XML: Exploring alternative sitemap formats

While XML is the most common sitemap format for a search engine to use, there are more:

  • HTML
  • RSS feed
  • mRSS feed
  • Atom feed
  • UX sitemap
  • News sitemap
  • Video sitemap
  • Image sitemap

These alternative formats can also be useful for website navigation and SEO. Other than HTML and visual sitemaps, what markup language is used for sitemap design? Mainly XML or extensible markup language.

An HTML sitemap, for instance, enhances user experience by providing a navigable layout for real-life visitors, not search engine robots. As mentioned earlier, these are most often found in the footer of a website.

Apple’s HTML sitemap

RSS, mRSS and Atom are also in the XML code format and are more limited and most frequently used with syndicated content.

Portion of an RSS feed sitemap

Same goes for news, video and image, they’re very specific in what they tell search engines.

Portion of an image sitemap

A UX sitemap, also known as a visual sitemap, is a visual representation of your site’s hierarchy. They’re an essential tool for website planning and aren’t usually publicly available on websites. See an example of a sitemap like this on our templates page.

If you’re going to use any sitemap, and not all websites have them, make it an XML sitemap.

Additionally, if you have a very large site, one that’s over 50,000 pages, you’ll need to break it up into multiple sitemaps and submit a sitemap index file.

Integrating sitemaps with search engines

Submitting a sitemap via Bing Webmaster Tools

With your sitemap prepared, the final step is to integrate it with search engines.

This is a key step.

Without sitemap submission, you don’t get the SEO benefits, with Google, Bing and other search engines having a tougher time efficiently indexing your site and hurting your search results in the process.

In Google Search Console you can submit your sitemap in the Sitemaps section and the same goes for Bing Webmaster Tools.

Submitting a sitemap via Google Search Console

Just select your site, find your sitemap URL and add the extension.

Regularly updating your sitemap submissions on search platforms is recommended to ensure that your website’s new pages are promptly indexed.

Summary

Sitemaps play a crucial role in website navigation and SEO. Whether it’s aiding search engines in indexing your website, like an XML sitemap does, or enhancing the user experience, like the HTML flavor, a well-crafted sitemap is a key tool in the digital arena.

Knowing how to find the sitemap of a website ensures you can always find yours or a competitor’s with ease.

By following the strategies and tools outlined in this guide, you can discover, create and manage sitemaps to improve your website’s performance and visibility.

Refine UX with superior sitemaps

Use our easy drag-and-drop interface to ensure people can get where they want to go.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is a sitemap and why is it important?

    A sitemap is a file that shows the structure of a website's pages and content, critical from both a website navigation and SEO perspective by helping search engines index the site and allowing users to find relevant content efficiently.

  • Where is the XML sitemap file located?

    The XML sitemap file is typically located at /sitemap.xml, /sitemap.xml or /sitemap_index.xml on your website, you can also check yourwebsite.com/robots.txt for the sitemap URL.

  • How do I find a sitemap on Google?

    To find a sitemap on Google, use the "site:" search operator followed by the website's domain and "sitemap.xml" or try "site:" with the operator "ext:XML" to find your sitemap.

  • How do I view a sitemap in HTML?

    To view a sitemap in HTML, visit the sitemap URL in your web browser. The sitemap may be accessible directly, or it could be linked from the website's footer or header. If available, the HTML sitemap will show a structured list of all the pages on a site for easy navigation.

  • What tools can be used to check a sitemap?

    Check sitemaps using tools like Google Search Console, online validators (e.g., XML-sitemaps.com or our XML sitemap validator) or SEO platforms (e.g., Screaming Frog, SEMrush) for errors and insights into indexing.

Steve Tsentserensky

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