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Creating a Sitemap file with Eleventy

juanfernandes profile image Juan Fernandes Originally published at juanfernandes.uk on ・4 min read

Creating a Sitemap file with Eleventy

This is a quick tip showing how I created a sitemap.xml file using Eleventy that will automatically update itself when you create new pages.

You need a sitemap to make it easier for search engines to index your website - but you can also inform them about how often pages are updated, when they were last updated and the priority level for each page.

What is a sitemap.xml file?

The Sitemaps protocol allows a webmaster to inform search engines about URLs on a website that are available for crawling. A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. It allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs of the site.

Wikipedia

How it works

The first thing I am doing here is excluding the sitemap file from the eleventy collection - we don't want the sitemap listing the sitemap.xml file as an entry.

I then set the permalink - which is the filename we want as its what search engines look for when they visit your website.

We then loop through the eleventy collections.all and output each page URL wrapped in a <url> tag. Inside that tag, we have the standard sitemap tags, <loc>, <lastmod>, <changefreq> and <priority>.

  • LOC is short for Location and holds the complete URL to the page
  • LASTMOD is short for Last Modified which is the date the file was last changed
  • CHANGEFREQ is short for Change Frequency which tells search engines how often the page changes
  • PRIORITY tag which tells search engines the priority of the page.

Let's see the code

---
eleventyExcludeFromCollections: true
permalink: sitemap.xml
---
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset
      xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
      xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
      xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9
            http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
  {%- for page in collections.all %}
  <url>
    <loc>{{ site.url }}{{ page.url }}</loc>
    <lastmod>{{ page.date | w3DateFilter }}</lastmod>
    <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
    {% if page.url == '/' %}
    <priority>1.00</priority>
    {% else %}
    <priority>0.50</priority>
    {% endif %}
  </url>
  {%- endfor %}
</urlset>

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A couple of things to note

I am using a filter to process and format the date - that's the w3DateFilter in the lastmod tag.

Also, I'm setting the home page as having the highest priority and setting all other pages to be less of a priority. I'm not an SEO expert and so I don't know if this is the best way of doing it or not, but based on some quick research I'm convinced this approach will work as I read that if you omit the priority, then a page's priority is usually set to 0.5 by default. This will work for smaller sites, but on a large site - this may not be the best approach.

Same with the Change Frequency - I'm setting all pages to have monthly set as the default for how often the page changes. I won't be doing many updates on my clients' website so I think monthly is appropriate for their website.

That's it - this is enough for a small website that doesn't get updated very often, but we can make this better for larger sites with content authors - let's look into that now.

Now let's make it better

The above example works perfectly for my client and their small website. It doesn't need to be updated regularly and they don't have a lot of pages - plus they are not very technical, so asking them to specify a page priority and change frequency I know it just wouldn't work for them.

But let's say you have a client website that has content authors and they are used to SEO terms, page priorities and change frequencies - let's give them the ability to add those to pages.

Here we are adding it via frontmatter but this could be handled by a CMS as well.

---
eleventyExcludeFromCollections: true
permalink: sitemap.xml
---
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset
      xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
      xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
      xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9
            http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
  {%- for page in collections.all %}
  <url>
    <loc>{{ site.url }}{{ page.url }}</loc>
    <lastmod>{{ page.date | w3DateFilter }}</lastmod>
    <changefreq>{% if page.data.changefreq %}{{ page.data.changefreq }}{% else %}monthly{% endif %}</changefreq>
    <priority>{% if page.data.priority %}{{ page.data.priority }}{% else %}0.5{% endif %}</priority>
  </url>
  {%- endfor %}
</urlset>

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Let's look at what is different

We are now checking to see if the page data contains a changefreq if it does, we use it, otherwise, we use monthly as the default and we use the same approach with the page priority - if the user has not set a page priority, we use a default of 0.5 - that's it.

A nice and easy fix to allow content authors more control over their pages whilst also having a default value automatically set if the author has not set one.

Wrapping up

I love these quick wins - doing a small thing to make maintaining a website a lot easier. You can just set it and forget it.

Discussion

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