Search engines like Google and Bing use what are known as ‘crawlers’ to constantly scan the internet for new or modified pages. These crawlers compile lists of websites and pages that are then analyzed and ranked by the search engines according to their criteria. As a site owner, you can improve search engine performance by using something known as a ‘sitemap’.
Sitemaps are simple HTML files that act as a list of pages and other available content on a given site. Think of it in terms of the table of contents and bibliography you might find in a textbook. Sitemaps improve visibility and search engine ranking by giving crawlers more context to work with.
Here are three things you need to know about Shopify sitemaps:
#1 – They Are Included Out-of-the-Box
The developers of the Shopify platform understand the importance of sitemaps. Therefore, every Shopify store has a built-in sitemap that is generated automatically as that store is developed. Every time you add a new product, create new blog content, etc. the sitemap is automatically updated in the background.
The obvious benefit to this out-of-the-box feature is that you do not have to build your own sitemap manually. It is already there to be used whenever you want. And that leads us to the second thing you need to know.
#2 – Where to Find It
Shopify actually builds multiple sitemaps for various segments of your website. You only need to know about the primary sitemap directly related to your domain name. It links to all of the others automatically. So where do you find your sitemap? It is located in the root directory of your store. Unless you opted for something different during the Shopify set-up, you will find your store’s root directory directly underneath your primary domain.
To find your sitemap, log on to your domain through your ISP’s control panel (usually cPanel or something similar) followed by opening the file manager. You should be taken directly to your root directory. Then just look for the file titled ‘sitemap.xml’. You can open this file in a standard text editor, make modifications if you like, and even save a backup copy just in case you need it later.
#3 – Submitting Your sitemap to Search Engines
You can submit your sitemap to search engines yourself rather than waiting for crawlers to find them. This can be beneficial if you have made changes to your site that you want the crawlers to pick up on right away. Otherwise, it could take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for search engines like Google to recognize the changes.
The search engines have different processes for submitting sitemaps, so you’ll have to consult each one to find out how to do it. You may also have to verify your site in order to submit sitemaps in the future. It is well worth doing if you want the search engines to know about site changes as quickly as possible.