Jan 15, 2023
BigCommerce Sitemap 101
Are you ready to supercharge your BigCommerce store's SEO? If you've ever wondered about the ins and outs of sitemaps on your BigCommerce site, you're in for a treat. In this article, we'll break down the key takeaways from our CEO Kal's informative video on the BigCommerce sitemap. Whether you're a seasoned BigCommerce user or just starting, this video is packed with valuable insights that can boost your online store's visibility and search engine ranking.
Visual Sitemap and XML Sitemap Demystified
The BigCommerce sitemap comes in two flavors: visual sitemaps and XML sitemaps. Kal will guide you through both in the video. Here's a sneak peek of what you can expect:
Visual Sitemap: Learn where to find the visual sitemap link, usually located in the footer of your BigCommerce store. Discover why it's essential not only for human visitors but also for search engine crawlers.
XML Sitemap: Understand the importance of the XML sitemap, the one you want to send directly to Google. Kal provides the URL and demonstrates how to locate it on your BigCommerce store. You'll also gain insights into why BigCommerce splits the XML sitemap into different sections and how this benefits your SEO efforts.
Submitting Your Sitemap to Google and More
But that's not all. Kal's video goes beyond explaining what the BigCommerce sitemap is. He also walks you through the practical steps of leveraging sitemaps for maximum SEO impact:
Submitting to Google: Discover how to submit your sitemap to Google using the Google Search Console. Kal shows you the simple process to ensure Google indexes your content efficiently.
Robots.txt Optimization: Learn how to add your BigCommerce sitemap to your robots.txt file, a handy way to tell search engine crawlers about your sitemap. This optimization can help various search engines find and index your sitemap effortlessly.
Click to Watch the Video Above
Ready to dive into the world of BigCommerce sitemaps and take control of your online store's SEO destiny? Kal's video is your key to unlocking the full potential of sitemaps on BigCommerce. Click the video above to watch now and turbocharge your e-commerce website's visibility, traffic and search engine ranking!
(BigCommerce Sitemap 101)
If you're looking to sort out your sitemap on your big commerce store, you're in luck. In this video, I'm going to show you everything that you need to know about sitemaps on the Bigcommerce website.
Before we get started, my name is Kal, and I'm a developer for a store just like you. And BigCommerce is my jam. If you find this video helpful, hit the subscribe button, and you can see more stuff.
Alright, let me share my screen, and let's talk about sitemaps. Okay, so there are two types of sitemaps. And people forget about one quite a bit.
There's a visual sitemap, and there's your XML sitemap. And I'm going to show you both here in this big commerce store. If I scroll down, most big commerce stores out the gate are going to already have a link in the footer to their visual sitemap.
And here's what it looks like on this particular theme: It's nothing special. But it basically just has all of your top-level links for your product pages, categories, and brands. All right here.
Basically, the idea behind this is that if a human really wanted to see how your site is laid out, they could come here.
But more importantly, this is a link that crawlers, when they come across your site, are going to see in the footer, and then they're going to come here and see all these links. And this is great for SEO. So this is already here.
You don't need to do anything about it. But I just want to let you know this exists. This is your visual sitemap. It exists at sitemap.php; it's the same URL for every big commerce and online store here.
You can't change it; you can't get rid of it. It's just that they're always doing good stuff for you. The other type of sitemap is an XML sitemap. And this is the type of BigCommerce sitemap that you want to use as your Google XML sitemap. So there's an article that BigCommerce put out called Locating Your Sitemap.
It's got some stuff up here that I don't think is super useful. But then it has the BigCommerce sitemap URL for your XML sitemap. This is an unusual URL.
Usually, you know, most frameworks will use a URL like sitemap dot XML; in this case, it's XML sitemap dot php, which is a little bit unusual. All right, so if you take this right here, and I'll put this link in the description of this video, too, so you don't have to, you know, come find this article.
But if you take this and put it at the end of your URL, just like this, it'll bring you to a page that probably looks almost exactly like this. And this is what you know, Google and other crawlers really want to see because this link right here, if I go to it, is another crazy page that looks like just keywords this and basically just has all your URLs listed on it.
So the whole point of this is to give Google and other crawlers a really good cheat sheet on where to find access to all of your content.
And so this XML sitemap dot php page is the parent-level page of your BigCommerce sitemap. And then there are the subpages for the different types of content, which are pages, products, categories, brands, and news, which is your blog.
The reason that Bigcommerce breaks this out is because there's a ceiling on how big files you can have a sitemap that gets submitted to Google.
So if your sitemap is just too big, then either Google won't crawl all of it, or the only crawled piece of it, you know, or they get stuck, and they just don't crawl any of it based on the sitemap, but they'll still crawl your site.
We want to make it as easy as possible for search engines and Google to crawl your site. You don't have to give them all these links; you just have to give them this link right here. And they'll figure out what to do.
Because they're going to come to this page, they'll crawl and get these links, and then they'll crawl those links and get all of the links that are on those.
Submit Your BigCommerce Sitemap
Alright, so let me show you where to submit BigCommerce sitemap file to Google when you get into the your Google Search Console account. You can find that at search.google.com, and then you will go into your domain property. I'm not going to go over how to set your domain property up in this video.
So assuming that you've already got your domain property set up, then you come in here to your domain property and come down to the sitemap index file section. You should be able to see submitted sitemaps, submit your sitemap, or you can remove sitemap. And then you would just paste in your sitemap index file after that slash, let me paste in specifically XML sitemap dot php, and click submit your sitemap.
You can see I've already submitted some search results of mine in the past, and it says that it's successful and that they've basically crawled 9400 URLs as a result of that, which is really good.
There's one other thing that you can do, which is to include it in your robots.txt file. So if you go to just type in robots dot . txt file after your domain, you'll see what's called your robots.txt file.
Now, this is normally used to tell crawlers what not to crawl, or what not to index.
So don't index my cart page because nobody needs to find that. In a search engine results or checkout or our thank you page or login, and these are all basically in here by default when you get your big commerce store, but one thing that you can do is you can actually add your sitemap to it.
And you want to make it look just like that and say, sitemap, colon space, and then the full URL, including your domain, just like that. And what this does is make it so that when a crawler comes to your site, it's going to naturally come across your robots.txt file, because all the crawlers automatically check it because, again, they're looking for the directions on which pages to not crawl.
And when the search engine results page they check it, they see your sitemap. That's just an easy way of saying, Hey, Bing, here's my sitemap to do with it. You know what you will do. You can submit your sitemap to Bing and other crawlers, but you know, most people don't.
Usually sticking it in here is kind of a good failsafe. So to get to your robots.txt file, you can add this in. You come in here to Settings, and then the website, click into that.
And then scroll down. And there's this section here called search engine robots. And this has all of the disallows that are specifically there for Google—all the disallows for search queries everything that's for everybody else. And then you can just add a line right at the bottom. And again, you want it to say sitemap, colon space, and then the URL.
That's all, nothing else. You wanted to follow that exact format, just like that. Alright, so we went over XML versus visual sitemaps. We went over how to find your visual sitemap URL as well as your new sitemap URL, how to put it in your robots, and how to submit it to Google.
A couple of questions people ask a lot are: do you need to update your sitemap periodically with Google? No, you do not. So Google will crawl that sitemap on a regular basis.
And Bigcommerce makes sure that all of your sites and links in that sitemap get updated all the time. So it's not even a concern? Do you have to resubmit your sitemap ever? Nope. It's never going to change unless you move platforms and don't do that. But it's never going to change. So once it's there and they validate that it's a good URL, then you're just good forever and ever.
And see, that's all the questions I had. And I think that's it. All right. So thanks for joining me on this video.
Hopefully, this answers all of your questions about sitemaps. Let me know if you guys have any questions that you know; maybe that'll be the topic of my next video. And be sure to reach out to us at Epic Design Labs. If you need something or want to join our free community on Facebook, visit joinecommercegrowth.com. All right. Thanks. And we'll see you soon.