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Is It Best to Compress Your Sitemap?

Matt Oakley - 14 February 2018
Is It Best to Compress Your Sitemap?
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When it comes to XML Sitemaps, website owners have the option to publish raw XML or to compress the file with gzip.

There’s often confusion about which method is most beneficial and we aim to clear that up.

The most important point to understand is that sitemap compression has no effect whatsoever on SEO. Whether you serve a sitemap.xml or sitemap.xml.gz is of no interest to search engines.

When Should You Compress Your Sitemap?

It’s simply a matter of preserving bandwidth. If you have a large sitemap then serving it compressed will reduce the amount of bandwidth used when serving it to search engines.

The benefit of reduced bandwidth usage is mainly cost. There are also small gains to be achieved by freeing up system resources.

It should also be noted that regardless of whether you compress your sitemap, the uncompressed file should be less than 50Mb. This is a rule set out by search engines and should be followed strictly.

If your sitemap exceeds 50Mb (or 50,000 URLs) then you should consider splitting your sitemap into multiple files with an index. This practice is discussed in detail in this dated but still relevant article from Moz.

Overall, it’s really more of a personal choice whether you choose to gzip your sitemap. At the time of writing, we do not compress our sitemap. Why? It’s another step in the build process that we just don’t require at this moment in time.

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