An XML sitemap is a computer-generated map of your website (in eXtensible Markup Language) that tells search engines about every page on your website. As well as telling the search engines where it is, your XML sitemap can also tell the search engines how important a page is and when it was last updated.
So, do you need one?
Search engines, particularly Google, won’t index content that they cannot reach by navigating to it from your homepage. It doesn’t need to be linked directly from your homepage, but if you can’t trace a route of clicks from your homepage to a particular page, then it is unlikely to appear in the index.
But that’s not the important thing about an XML sitemap…
The important thing about an XML sitemap is that you can use it with tools like Google’s own “Search Console” to check that your website is being indexed.
If you point Search Console at your site’s XML sitemap then you can get a measure of how many pages from the list contained in the sitemap are being actually indexed.
This is a great way to spot indexation problems like orphaned pages – pages that have become disconnected from the main navigation and are therefore not being indexed anymore.
Check, or ask your web developer to check, the following things:
- Check your CMS is generating a sitemap.
- Check there is metadata in your page header to tell search engines where to find your XML sitemap.
- Check your XML sitemap is connected to Search Console.