Create an XML sitemap in Screaming Frog

by The Tortoise
create an xml sitemap in screaming frog

Screaming Frog can be used for many things, such as finding inlinks and outlinks, or finding missing img alt text. In this post, we take a look at how to create an XML sitemap in Screaming Frog.

What is an XML sitemap?

An XML sitemap is basically just a list of your site’s pages that search engines use to discover them. Ideally, you’d want all your site’s pages to be discoverable through the internal links on your site, but having an XML sitemap acts as a backup/alternate option for helping Google find your pages.

How to create an XML sitemap using Screaming Frog:

  1. Crawl your site or list of URLs
  2. Once the crawl has finished, navigate to ‘Sitemaps’ and select ‘XML Sitemap’:
Screaming Frog XML Sitemap generator

You’re then presented with a series of configuration options on different tabs. The first of these is ‘Pages’. By default, the XML sitemap will only include indexable, 2xx HTML URLs. The likelihood is you won’t want to change these settings. Having 404 pages, for example, in an XML sitemap is bad practice:

Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration pages tab

The ‘Last Modified’ tab allows you to change or exclude the <lastmod> tag. This isn’t a particularly important tag to bother configuring in an XML sitemap, and Google have previously said they mostly ignore the lastmod tag in XML sitemaps.

Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration last modified tab

Next up is the ‘Priority’ and ‘Change Frequency’ tabs. Again, Google have downplayed the role of these features, but you can always tweak them if you want with the settings in Screaming Frog shown below (if you’re not sure about them, you’re best of leaving them):

Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration priority tab
Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration change frequency tab

Of more importance is the ‘Images’ tab. By default, the settings will have Images not included, although depending on how your sitemaps are organised (e.g. if you have a separate Image sitemap, or if you won’t be able to fit all your image and HTML URLs in one sitemap (there’s a 50,000 URL limit)), you may want to include these. After all, it could help your images appear in Google image search. If you have images that are hosted outside of your domain on Content Delivery Networks these can also be manually entered in the box in this tab too.

Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration images tab

Lastly, there’s the Hreflang tab. If you have an international site that uses hreflang links, then you can tick this box so their elements are included too.

Screaming Frog XML sitemap export configuration hreflang tab

Once you’re done selecting your options in the export configuration, hit OK and Screaming Frog will generate your XML sitemap!

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