Sitemap 101 for BigCommerce
Jan 15, 2023

Sitemap 101 for BigCommerce

A sitemap is a file where you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site, and the relationships between them.

Search engines like Google read this file to crawl your site more efficiently.

Video Transcript:
(Sitemap 101 for BigCommerce)

Are you 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 Bigcommerce. Before we get started, my name is Kal, I'm a developer 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 and things and 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 gonna show you both here on 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 pages, categories and brands. All right here. And basically the idea for this is if a human really wanted to see kind of 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 just want to let you know this exists. This is your visual sitemap. It exists at sitemap dot php, it's the same URL for every big commerce store.

You can't change it, you can't get rid of it. It's just always they're doing good stuff for you. The other type of sitemap is an XML sitemap. And this is the this is the type of sitemap that you want to send to Google. 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 URL for your your XML sitemap. This is an unusual URL. Usually, you know, most frameworks will use a, a URL of 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 into the description of this video, too, so you don't have to, you know, come find this article.

But if you take this and you 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 this, that basically just has all your URLs listed on it. So the whole point of this is to give Google and other crawlers just really a cheat sheet of where to find all of your content.

And so this XML sitemap dot php page is the parent level page of your Sitemap. And then there's the sub pages for the different types of content, which are pages, products, categories, brands, and news, which is your blog are Yeah. The reason that Bigcommerce breaks this out is because there's a ceiling on how big 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, or they get stuck, and they just don't crawl any of it based on the sitemap, they'll still crawl your site. But we want to make it as easy as possible for 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, get these links, and then they'll crawl those links and get get all of the links that are on those. Alright, so let me show you where to submit this to Google, when you get into Google Search Console. Which you can find that, 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, come down to the indexing sitemap section. And then you would just paste in everything after that slash let me paste in specifically x m l site map dot php, and click Submit. You can see I've already submitted 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 into your robots. txt file. So if you go to just type in robots dot txt 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, right or what not to index rather.

So don't index my cart page because nobody needs to find that In a search 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 it makes 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 they check it and they see your Sitemap. That's just a easy way of saying, hey, Bing, here's my sitemap do with it. You know what, what you will, you can submit your sitemap to Bing and other crawlers but you know, most people don't. And usually sticking it in here is kind of a good, a good failsafe. So to get to your robots. txt file, so that you can add this in. You come in here to Settings, and then 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 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 XML Sitemap URL, we went over how to put it in your robots how to submit to Google. A couple questions people ask a lot is, 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 make sure that all of your 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 gonna change. So once it's there, and they validated that it's good URL, then you're just good for ever 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 answered 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 join our free community on Facebook, join ecommerce All right. Thanks. And we'll see you soon.