What Are the Limitations on the Size and Number of URLs in a sitemap.xml File, and How Can These Be Effectively Managed?


The sitemap.xml file can include up to 50,000 URLs, and its size should not exceed 50MB. Managing larger sitemaps requires splitting them into multiple files and using a sitemap index file to reference each individual sitemap. Here's an in-depth explanation on handling the size and number limitations of sitemap.xml files.

Understanding Sitemap.xml Limitations

Maximum Number of URLs

According to Google's Sitemap guidelines, each sitemap.xml file can contain a maximum of 50,000 URLs. This limitation ensures search engines can efficiently crawl and index your website without overloading their resources.

Maximum File Size

The size of a sitemap.xml file must not exceed 50MB (uncompressed). This restriction helps maintain fast load times and efficient processing by search engines when retrieving and parsing the file. More details on file size restrictions can be found on Google Search Central.

Effective Management of Large Sitemaps

Splitting Sitemaps

When your website's URL count exceeds 50,000, or the sitemap file size exceeds 50MB, you need to split the sitemap into multiple smaller files. Each of these smaller sitemaps should adhere to the same URL and size restrictions.

Using a Sitemap Index File

To efficiently manage multiple sitemaps, use a sitemap index file to reference all individual sitemaps. A sitemap index file can include up to 50,000 sitemaps and follows similar file size restrictions of 50MB. Search engines like Google and Bing will read this index file to locate and parse all referenced sitemaps.

Example of a Sitemap Index File:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<sitemapindex xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">

Automating Sitemap Management

To ensure your sitemaps.xml are always up-to-date, consider using plugins or automated scripts. For example, if you're using WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin can automatically generate and manage sitemaps for you. Similarly, custom scripts can be created to dynamically generate sitemaps based on your site's database or content management system.

Examples and Real-World Implementation

Consider an e-commerce website with over 150,000 products. To manage its sitemaps effectively, it could create three separate sitemap files with around 50,000 URLs each:

  • sitemap1.xml – Containing the first 50,000 product URLs
  • sitemap2.xml – Containing the next 50,000 product URLs
  • sitemap3.xml – Containing the remaining 50,000 product URLs

These three sitemaps would then be referenced in a sitemap index file as shown in the previous example.

Submitting Multiple Sitemaps

To submit multiple sitemaps, ensure they are all listed in your sitemap index file. Then, submit the sitemap index file to search engines via their respective webmaster tools portals:

By doing this, you ensure that search engines can discover all your individual sitemaps efficiently.