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How to Create & Setup Sitemap for BigCommerce?

April 10, 2024
Written and researched by experts at AvadaLearn more about our methodology

By Sam Nguyen

CEO Avada Commerce

Creating a BigCommerce XML sitemap is a key step in optimizing your online store for search engines. This guide will show you the straightforward steps to create and submit your sitemap, improving your store’s visibility online.

Creating a BigCommerce XML sitemap

What is a BigCommerce XML Sitemap?

A BigCommerce XML sitemap is a roadmap of your BigCommerce website that leads search engines to all your important pages. It’s structured in a way that search engines can easily interpret, making it a critical tool for SEO. Unlike the visual sitemap designed for human visitors, the XML sitemap is specifically for search engines like Google to crawl your site more effectively.

A BigCommerce XML sitemap is a roadmap of your BigCommerce website

The Structure of an XML Sitemap

When you navigate to your XML sitemap, you’ll typically find a list of links. These aren’t just random links but are gateways to sub-sitemaps that categorize different sections of your site, such as product categories, blog posts, and more. This layered approach helps search engines crawl your site in an organized manner, ensuring they don’t miss any content.

Structure of an XML Sitemap
Structure of an XML Sitemap

Each link within the XML sitemap points to another sitemap that details specific parts of your store. This methodical breakdown makes it easy for search engines to find all your content, enhancing your site’s visibility and potentially boosting its rankings in search results.

Why Your XML Sitemap Matters

  • Improved Site Crawling: By providing a clear structure of your site to search engines, you’re essentially making their job easier. This can lead to more efficient crawling, ensuring that all your pages are indexed.
  • Faster Indexing: New products, categories, and pages can be discovered and indexed more quickly when your XML sitemap is up to date. This is crucial for maintaining current visibility in search engine results.
  • Enhanced SEO: A comprehensive XML sitemap can contribute to better SEO outcomes by ensuring that search engines can crawl and index your site thoroughly. This is especially important for e-commerce sites with a large number of products.

When to Use a Sitemap:

  • Large Stores: If your store has many pages, a sitemap is a must.
  • Complex Sites: If your store has pages not linked together well, use a sitemap.
  • New Stores: New stores with few links from other sites need a sitemap.
  • Stores with Lots of Media: If you have many pictures or videos, a sitemap helps Google understand them.

When You Might Not Need a Sitemap:

  • Small Stores: If your store is small, you might not need a sitemap.
  • Simple Sites: Sites that are simple or use platforms like Blogger or Wix often get a sitemap automatically.
  • Well-Linked Sites: If all your pages link to each other well, Google can usually find them without a sitemap.

How to Access Your XML Sitemap on BigCommerce

Accessing your XML sitemap on BigCommerce is straightforward. Simply append /xmlsitemap.php to your domain name (e.g., yourdomain.com/xmlsitemap.php). This URL is a standard feature across all BigCommerce stores, regardless of the theme or customizations you have in place. It’s hardcoded into the platform, ensuring consistency and ease of access.

How to Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

Simply follow these measures to upload the sitemap to Google. 

Or you can take a look at this video for better visualization. 

Step 1: Ensure Your Store is Public

Before anything else, make sure your store is accessible to the public and not in maintenance mode, as Google needs to be able to crawl your site:

  1. Log in to your BigCommerce dashboard.
  2. Navigate to Store Setup > Store Settings.
  3. Check your store’s status. If it’s set to “Down for Maintenance,” change it to allow public access.
Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console
  1. Click Save to apply changes.

Step 2: Verify Your Store with Google Search Console

Next, you need to verify ownership of your website with Google:

  1. Visit Google Search Console and sign in or sign up.
  2. Under “URL prefix” option, enter your website’s URL (make sure it’s exactly as it appears on your store, including https://).
Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console
  1. Google will offer several verification methods. Choose the HTML tag method; this is the simplest for BigCommerce sites.
  2. Copy the HTML code provided by Google.
Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

Step 3: Add the Verification Code to Your BigCommerce Store

Now, let’s add the verification code to your store:

  1. Return to your BigCommerce dashboard.
  2. Go to Advanced Settings > Web Analytics.
  3. Check the box for Google Analytics and open the Google Analytics tab.
XML Sitemap Google Analytics BigCommerce
  1. Paste the HTML code from Google Search Console into the box.
XML Sitemap Google Analytics BigCommerce
  1. Save your changes.

Step 4: Confirm Verification in Google Search Console

After adding the code to your store:

  1. Go back to Google Search Console.
  2. Click Verify next to your domain.
XML Sitemap BigCommerce Verification
  1. If everything’s correct, you’ll see a confirmation message. If not, double-check your steps.

Step 5: Submit Your Sitemap

With your store verified, it’s time to submit your sitemap:

  1. In Google Search Console, select your verified property (your site).
  2. Find and click on “Sitemaps” from the left menu.
XML Sitemap BigCommerce Verification
  1. Your sitemap URL for BigCommerce usually ends in xmlsitemap.php. Enter this in the “Add a new sitemap” field.
XML Sitemap BigCommerce Verification
  1. Click Submit.

Step 6: Monitor and Update Your Sitemap as Needed

After submitting, keep an eye on your sitemap’s status in Google Search Console:

  1. Initially, you might see a “Couldn’t fetch” status. This is normal. It should change to “Success” after some time, indicating Google has processed your sitemap.
Update Your Sitemap bigcommerce
  1. If you significantly update your store (like adding many new products), you might need to resubmit your sitemap. Just remove the old one in Search Console and submit the new path.

Extra Tips

  • Tell Google About Your Sitemap in Robots.txt: Adding your sitemap URL to your robots.txt file is a good idea. It helps Google find it faster.
  • Make Sure Google Can See Your Site: Before doing all this, double-check that your store is not set to maintenance mode or hidden. Google needs to see your site to index it.

BigCommerce Sitemap Error

URLs are inaccessible

When Google attempted to crawl a URL in your BigCommerce sitemap, it found a mistake. Inspect the URL in the sitemap with the URL inspection method to see if it is accessible to Google.

URLs that were not followed

Google was unable to crawl any of the URLs mentioned in your sitemap. Here are several potential explanations:

  • There are so many redirects in the URL for Google web crawlers to navigate. We recommend that you overwrite any redirect URLs in your sitemaps with the real URLs that should be crawled.
    • Using a permanent redirect while you are permanently redirecting from one website to another.
    • Redirects of JavaScript or meta-refresh can be stopped.
  • Google is having trouble with the sitemap’s relative URLs. Using utter or full connections instead of relative links wherever possible. When referring to any page on the blog, for example, choose https://www.example.com/mypage.html rather than just mypage.html.
    • URL is not approved

Any URLs in your sitemap are at a higher level or in a separate domain than the sitemap file.

Higher level: If your sitemap is listed as http://www.example.com/mysite/sitemap.xml, the following URLs are invalid:

  • http://www.example.com/ – a degree greater than the sitemap
  • http://www.example.com/yoursite/ – In the sitemap’s sibling directory (you must go up and then down to get to it).

Various domains: Check that the URLs all begin with the same domain as your sitemap position. For example, if the sitemap is located at http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml, the following URLs are invalid:

  • http://example.com/ – “www” is missing.
  • www.example.com/ – “HTTP” is missing.
  • https://www.example.com/ – Rather than HTTP, use HTTPS.

Error in encoding

When Google attempted to uncompress the compressed BigCommerce sitemap image, it found an error. Recompress your sitemap (using gzip), upload it to your site, and resubmit it.

Sitemap is blank

There are no URLs in your sitemap. Test the sitemap to make sure it isn’t zero.

Error with sitemap file size

Your sitemap is larger than the maximum file capacity.

When uncompressed, the sitemap is greater than 50MB. If the sitemap reaches the cap, split it into smaller sitemaps and display them in a sitemap index file before uploading the sitemap index file.

The attribute value is invalid

You gave an XML tag attribute an invalid meaning. Examine the sitemaps to ensure that only the permitted attributes are available and that you allocate only permitted values in accordance with the sitemap requirements. Check for typos of the attributes and beliefs.

The date is invalid

One or two of the dates in your sitemap are wrong. This mistake may be caused by an incorrectly formatted date or by the date itself becoming invalid. Dates may use W3C Datetime encoding, but the period part may be omitted. Check that the dates are in one of the W3C Datetime formats:

– 2021-02-21

– 2021-02-21T18:00:15+00:00 

It is not necessary to define a period (the time defaults to 00:00:00Z), but you must also specify a time zone if you do.

Tag value is wrong

One or more tags in your BigCommerce sitemap have an incorrect meaning. Examine the requirements for your sitemap form (index, standard, video, and so on).

URL is not true

A URL in your sitemap is incorrect. This mistake may be triggered by the inclusion of unsupported letters, spaces, or other characters such as quotations, or it could be attributed to improper encoding (for example, htp:/ instead of http://).

Check that the URLs in your sitemap are encoded for readability and correctly escaped. Examine the text for any inappropriate characters, such as spaces or quotations. You should even start pasting the URL into a tab to see if it understands the URL and loads the file.

Incomplete URL in sitemap index file: null URL

Your sitemap index file does not include the complete URL for each sitemap file mentioned. If we see a sitemap index file, we search for the data it corresponds to in the same directory. For example, if your sitemap index file is http://www.example.com/folder1/sitemap index.xml and your sitemap is listed as sitemap.xml (no/at the beginning), we’ll search for it at http://www.example.com/folder1/sitemap.xml. You’ll see this mistake if we can’t locate it there. Resubmit your sitemap index file after updating it to provide the full path to each specified sitemap file.

Invalid XML: there are so many tags

Duplicate tags can be used in the sitemap. Since the tag is mentioned twice, the following entry, for example, will result in this error:








The error message specifies the problematic tag as well as the line number. Resubmit the sitemap after removing the redundant stamp.

An XML attribute is absent

A specified attribute is absent from a tag in your BigCommerce sitemap. Examine the sitemaps to guarantee that no required attributes are lacking. Resubmit the sitemap after you’ve corrected the attribute values.

XML tag is lacking

A needed tag is absent from one or more of your sitemap entries. The line number is specified in the error message. For further details on required tags, see the sitemap fundamentals tab.

URL for the thumbnail is off

A URL to a thumbnail picture is omitted from one or more video entries. Be sure to use the tag to specify the position of any thumbnail URLs.

The video title is absent

A title is absent from one or more video entries. Make sure that each video in your sitemap has a title, which should be stated in the tag.

Nested sitemap indexes: the incorrect sitemap index style

One or more entries in your sitemap index system make use of their own URLs or the URLs of other sitemap index files. A sitemap index file will only list sitemap data, not other sitemap index files.

Resubmit the sitemap after removing all entries leading to sitemap index folders.

Error in parsing

Google was unable to parse the sitemap’s XML.

This issue is often exacerbated by an unescaped character in the URL. Most data values (including URLs), including all XML archives, must use object escape codes for some characters like & ‘ “> of symbols Be ensure all the URLs are appropriately escaped.

Temporary error

Our system encountered a temporary glitch, stopping us from processing the sitemap. In certain cases, you do not need to resubmit the sitemap if you make this mistake. Google will attempt to retrieve your sitemap again in the future. If the mistake persists after many hours, resubmit the sitemap.

There are so many sitemaps in the sitemap index format

Your BigCommerce sitemap index file contains over 50,000 sitemaps. Divide the sitemap index into several sitemap index directories, each of which should include no more than 50,000 sitemaps.

There are so many URLs in the sitemap

Your sitemap contains over 50,000 URLs. Divide the sitemap into several sitemaps, each with no more than 50,000 URLs. To control your sitemaps, you may also use a sitemap index format.

Format not endorsed

Your sitemap is not supported in a format.

Here are a few examples of typical XML errors:

  • The proper header must be included with your sitemap. For eg, if your sitemap includes video content, the header will be as follows:

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″


  • In the header, the namespace must be “http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9” (not .9).
  • Both XML properties must be enclosed in either single or double quotes (‘) “) and the quotation marks must be smooth, not curly. Curly quotations may be inserted using word-processing software such as Microsoft Word.

Path mismatch: www is incomplete

The link to your sitemap may not have the www prefix (e.g., http://example.com/sitemap.xml), however, the URLs it mentions do (e.g., http://www.example.com/myfile.html).

Modify your sitemap and strip “www” from all URLs to fit the position of your sitemap.

Path mismatch: contains www

The connection to the BigCommerce sitemap requires the www prefix (for example, http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml), but the URLs found inside it do not (for example, http://example.com/myfile.xml).

Modify your sitemap and apply “www” to all URLs to fit the position of your sitemap.

Namespace is incorrect

The root part of your sitemap lacks the right namespace, is wrongly declared, or has a typo or incorrect URL.

Check if you’re using the right namespace for your file form. As an example:

  • A sitemap file: xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″
  • A video sitemap file: xmlns:video=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1″
  • A sitemap index file: <sitemapindex xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>
  • Other sitemap types

Whitespace in the leading

Instead of a namespace declaration, the sitemap starts with a leading whitespace. XML files can start with an XML declaration that defines the XML version being used.

This error would not preclude Google from processing the sitemap, so you can delete the whitespace such that the file conforms to the XML format and you no longer see this error.

Specific code: HTTP error

When Google attempted to retrieve the sitemap, it found an HTTP error. This message indicates the status code that we got (for example, 404). Check that the URL you mentioned for the sitemap is right and that the sitemap exists at that address. After that, resubmit the sitemap.

The thumbnail is too broad

The video thumbnail picture in your sitemap is way too big. Reduce the resolution of your video thumbnail to 160 x 120 px. Resubmit your sitemap after updating it with the latest details.

The thumbnail is too small

The video thumbnail picture in your BigCommerce sitemap is too little. Reduce the resolution of your video thumbnail to 160 x 120 px. If required, revise the sitemap.

The position of the video and the location of the play page are the same

The video content URL and the player URL cannot be the same in a video sitemap. If you supply both, the URLs must be distinct.

The URL for the video position seems to be a URL for the Play website

The URL in a video sitemap refers to the website that contains the player. More details on using video material in a sitemap.

The sitemap includes URLs that are forbidden by robots.txt

Because of a robots.txt format, Google cannot access your sitemap or any of the material mentioned in your sitemap. Use the URL Inspection method to decide which files are being restricted, and then change the robots.txt file to allow Googlebot access to them.

Best Practices for Your XML Sitemap

  • Keep it Updated: Ensure that your XML sitemap is automatically updated when new pages are added or existing ones are removed. BigCommerce typically handles this for you, but it’s good to be aware.
  • Submit to Search Engines: Don’t just create your sitemap; submit it to Google Search Console and other search engines. This notifies them of its existence and encourages them to crawl your site.
  • Prioritize Important Content: While BigCommerce automatically generates your sitemap, consider customizing it if necessary to highlight priority content to search engines.

Besides, leverage BigCommerce analytics tools offer comprehensive insights into your store’s performance.

Final thought

Setting up a BigCommerce XML sitemap doesn’t have to be complicated. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure your online store is more visible to search engines, helping potential customers find your products easily. Remember, a well-structured sitemap can significantly impact your store’s search engine ranking and overall success.

Sam Nguyen is the CEO and founder of Avada Commerce, an e-commerce solution provider headquartered in Singapore. He is an expert on the Shopify e-commerce platform for online stores and retail point-of-sale systems. Sam loves talking about e-commerce and he aims to help over a million online businesses grow and thrive.