Before you can start scanning and monitoring for accessibility issues, you’ll need to import pages from your website into RAMP. Adding your XML Sitemap path to your website’s Accessible Web RAMP account is the most efficient way to automatically import pages into RAMP.
In this article, we’ll cover:
What is an XML Sitemap?
An XML Sitemap is a file that lists your site’s URLs so that search engines can quickly and effectively crawl it. Sitemaps help search engines and other website crawlers, like Google and AccessibleWebBot, find and understand your website’s URLs, the content on each page, and the relationships between pages.
Alongside each URL, XML Sitemaps also list additional metadata including:
- When the page was last updated
- How often the page typically changes
- The priority of each page relative to other URLs on the site
Additionally, sitemaps provide information about specific content on your pages, like videos, images, and news articles. If your website is really large or has lots of rich media (video, images, news), having a sitemap is especially important.
When properly configured, your XML sitemap will stay updated with new pages as they’re added to the site. It’s a dynamic inventory that changes with your website over time.
We recommend using a sitemap to import pages into Accessible Web RAMP for page monitoring. Adding your sitemap to RAMP is also the best way to make sure RAMP stays up-to-date when changes are made to your site and to ensure no pages of your site have been missed.
How to Find Your Sitemap
Even if this is the first time you’re learning about sitemaps, don’t stress! Let’s talk about three easy strategies for locating your sitemap or sitemap index file.
- Manually Check the Most Common Sitemap Locations
- Check Your /robots.txt File
- Locate Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and Blogger Sitemaps
Don’t have a sitemap? Jump to Creating A Sitemap
[0:00] Hi and welcome to Accessible Web RAMP.
[0:03] In this video I’m going to show you how to find and add your Sitemap path to your RAMP account. RAMP uses your sitemap path to upload pages for scanning and monitoring.
[0:14] While there are alternative methods for adding pages if necessary, we strongly recommend using your sitemap as it allows ramp to stay up to date on changes to your site automatically.
[0:25] We’re going to go to ramp settings in the lower left hand corner, and from settings we’ll navigate to page monitoring. On this page monitoring tab, you’ll see that there’s a form field for adding your sitemap path. If you don’t know where your sitemap path is located on your website, there are a couple of spots I recommend checking first. The first spot is your robots.txt file because sometimes your robots.txt file will list the URL of the sitemap. For this example site, you can see that its robots.txt file does indeed list its sitemap URL. And the sitemap is located at /sitemap.XML. /sitemap.XML is probably the most common location for sitemaps. So, you can honestly just type it in at the end of your URL to check there first. Sometimes you’ll find that /sitemap.XML redirects to the actual URL of your sitemap automatically. But going to the sitemap just to check it and see what it looks like, we can see that the website I’m using as an example here has a sitemap index. So a sitemap index is used to house multiple child sitemaps. In this case, the website has four child sitemaps. And the sitemap index can be used, you can put the path for this index directly into RAMP to upload pages. That’s how you’d upload all of the website’s pages. But if you wanted to scan just a subset of the site’s pages for some reason, you could add in the child sitemap path instead. So if I put /posts.sitemap.XML, only the 18 pages contained within that child sitemap will be uploaded to RAMP.
[2:04] For this example, I am going to use the full sitemap index URL though. So that’s going to be /sitemap.XML. That’s the path I’m typing in under the Settings page of RAMP, and you can tell you’ve done this right, because the full sitemap URL should look like the actual URL for your sitemap. And that’s how you know you’ve put in just the sitemap path correctly.
[2:28] Before you save settings on this page, you can adjust the scan frequency, and you can adjust the scan frequency from the default which is weekly to scan either more or less often depending on how often your site is updated. If your site is regularly added to or changed, we recommend scanning at least weekly if not daily, but if your site is rarely edited, you might be able to get away with monthly or quarterly scans.
[2:56] Once you save settings on this page, you’ll notice that you have a little spinning icon show up in the left side menu bar next to the page monitoring tab. We’re going to navigate over there because right now RAMP is working to ingest the pages of the website and scan them each for accessibility issues.
[3:16] Please get in touch with us if you have any issues or questions about finding or uploading your sitemap. Our team is happy to help.
1. Manually Check the Most Common Sitemap Locations
The simplest way to find your sitemap is to manually check the most common sitemap locations. All you need to do is enter your URL in a browser and then try out a few different sitemap path variations at the end of it.
First, check the most common sitemap paths:
Most popular CMS providers–including Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and Blogger–automatically generate sitemaps or sitemap indexes for all websites built on their platforms. If your site is built on Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, or Blogger, your XML Sitemap or Sitemap Index should be located at /sitemap.xml.
Sitemap Index files are used to group more than one sitemap. Our website, for example, uses a /sitemap_index.xml file to organize our 8 different sitemaps. Searching https://accessibleweb.com/sitemap.xml in a browser redirects to our sitemap index at https://accessibleweb.com/sitemap_index.xml.
Accessible Web RAMP is able to ingest entire Sitemap Index files. All you need to do is enter your Sitemap Index’s URL path under Settings > Page Monitoring within RAMP. To scan only a subset of pages instead of the entire sitemap index, add one of your sub-sitemap paths (like /page-sitemap.xml) to RAMP instead of the entire sitemap index (/sitemap-index.xml).
2. Check Your /robots.txt File
Checking your robots.txt file is the next quick and easy method for locating your sitemap.
Sometimes, the robots.txt file also lists the sitemap URL. This can be especially useful when a website has a less common sitemap location.
To view your website’s robots.txt file, just add /robots.txt to your domain.
3. Locate Wix, Squarespace, Shopify, and Blogger Sitemaps
Many popular CMS automatically generate sitemaps. Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, and Blogger all generate a default XML Sitemap or XML Sitemap Index for websites built on their respective platforms.
If your website is built on Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, or Blogger, your sitemap path should be /sitemap.xml.
You will find your Sitemap or Sitemap Index located at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.
Read more about Wix Sitemaps from Wix Help Center…
Read more about Squarespace Sitemaps…
Read more about Blogger Sitemaps…
Learn how to customize your Shopify site’s robots.txt file…
Unable to locate your sitemap?
If you’re unable to locate a sitemap for your website using these first three methods, you might not have one yet. Luckily, creating a sitemap is no big deal.
How to Create a Sitemap
If your site doesn’t have a sitemap already, you can quickly and easily create one using one of the following methods.
- Use Your CMS to Generate a Sitemap
- Automatically Create a Sitemap
- Manually Create a Sitemap
1. Use Your CMS to Generate (or Find) a Sitemap
Since each CMS provider is a little bit different, the most efficient method for creating a sitemap varies depending on which CMS your site uses. While many CMS providers now automatically generate XML Sitemaps, others still require plugins, extensions, or settings configurations to create a sitemap.
Let’s take a look at how to create a sitemap for WordPress.
To install a plugin on your WordPress website, open your WP dashboard and navigate to Plugins > Add New and search for the plugin you want to install.
Once installed and activated, you’ll see an All in One SEO tab on your WP admin dashboard. Enable your sitemap by going to All in One SEO > Sitemaps and clicking Enable Sitemap. Customize your sitemap from within this tab as well.
Once installed and activated, you’ll see a new SEO tab on your WP admin dashboard. Enable your sitemap in Yoast by clicking SEO > General Settings > Features and turning on the XML Sitemap feature. Read more about setting up and configuring your Yoast SEO Sitemap.
WordPress version 5.5 and above automatically generates a default sitemap for every website–located at https://www.yourdomain.com/wp-sitemap.xml. The default WordPress Sitemap is very basic, non-customizable, and includes everything on your site. WP’s default sitemap often includes older archives and anything you might have no-indexed, in addition to your relevant pages, which can cause issues on some sites.
Read more about WordPress Sitemaps from WordPress.com.
Magento sites don’t come with automatically generated sitemaps, like Wix and Shopify. Luckily, Magento does have a built-in feature so you can generate and customize your XML Sitemap on the backend.
From your Magento Admin Panel, go to Marketing > Seo & Search > Site Map > click on the Add Sitemap button.
Next, a “New Site Map” window will open up. In the Filename field, type “sitemap.xml” and, in the Path field, type “/” — this will become your sitemap path (/sitemap.xml).
Finally, click “Save” and then click the “Generate” button to generate/update your sitemap.
Read “How to generate XML and HTML Sitemaps in Magento 2?” for in-depth instructions.
There are numerous extensions available to help you generate a sitemap for your Joomla! site. We recommend exploring Joomla’s Extension Dictionary’s sitemap section.
OSMap is one of the more popular Joomla extensions for SEO and XML Sitemap generation.
If your site is small and simple, it’s also possible to manually create an XML Sitemap for your website. Continue reading below for more information on manually creating sitemaps.
Working with a Drupal site? The easiest way to create an XML Sitemap for your Drupal site is to use a Drupal module.
One of the most popular modules for creating Drupal Sitemaps is called XML Sitemap. This module can be used to generate an XML Sitemap. The XML Sitemap module can be installed like any other Drupal module. You can adjust your sitemap’s settings by going to admin/config/search/xmlsitemap.
Once you’ve installed and properly configured this Drupal module, your sitemap will be located at http://yoursite.com/sitemap.xml. Your sitemap path, aka what you’ll input in RAMP to set up Page Monitoring, will be /sitemap.xml.
2. Automatically Generate and Manually Upload a Sitemap
If your website isn’t built on any of the above CMS platforms, you can create and upload your own XML Sitemap with the assistance of website crawling tools. Website crawlers and sitemap generators crawl websites to generate a list of URLs which can be saved as an XML Sitemap file.
The following tools offer free versions and can be used to generate sitemap files for most websites:
With XML-sitemaps.com, you just enter your domain URL and click Start. Once the scan is complete, just download the XML sitemap file, upload it to your site’s root, and add it to your /robots.txt file.
The free version of XML-Sitemaps.com will generate an XML Sitemap file with up to 500 pages. The XML-Sitemaps tool gives you the option of upgrading to include more than 500 pages.
Screaming Frog is one of the most popular website crawlers. You can crawl up to 500 pages for free. In addition to automatically generating sitemaps, Screaming Frog can be used to export CSV, Google Sheets, and Excel Workbook files.
To generate a sitemap using Screaming Frog, enter your domain URL and click Start. Screaming Frog will begin to crawl your site and generate a list of URLs.
Once the scan is complete, click Sitemaps > XML Sitemaps from the top menu bar.
A pop-up window will appear. We recommend only checking the checkbox next to “PDFs” and leaving the rest unchecked. Click Next.
Your sitemap file should be ready to upload now! Just upload it to your website’s root file and add the sitemap URL to your /robots.txt file.
3. Manually Create and Upload a Sitemap
If your website is small, consisting of only a couple dozen URLs or so, you can manually create a sitemap for your site by following XML Sitemap formatting guidelines. The downside of manually creating a sitemap is that it won’t stay updated as your website changes. For this reason, we only recommend this option if there isn’t a solution for a dynamic sitemap.
First, gather all your page URLs. For very small sites, you can gather them by following each of your site’s navigation menus/paths down to their deepest level. As you manually gather your URLs, begin grouping them into logical categories. It makes sense to group URLs similarly to how they’re organized in your navigation menus (About, Shopping, Blog, Contact Us, etc.).
Next, code your URLs. You’ll want to use a text editor to create your XML file. If you aren’t familiar with XML, which stands for “extensible markup language,” you can review XML tag definitions and formating standards from sitemaps.org.
Once you’ve coded your URLs, it is time to validate your sitemap. Use a free online tool, like XML-Sitemaps.com’s validator tool, to check that your XML sitemap is properly formatted and operational before adding it to your site.
Finally, upload your XML sitemap file to the root folder of your website and to your robots.txt file, which can be found at the root of your site as well.
For even more in-depth instructions on manually creating a sitemap, read 5 Easy Steps to Creating a Sitemap For a Website from QuickSprout.com…
How to Add Your Website’s Sitemap to RAMP
To start importing and monitoring pages from your website automatically, just add your sitemap path under the RAMP Settings tab. Once you’ve added your sitemap, Accessible Web RAMP will allow you to select either all of your site’s pages or a specific subset you want to prioritize for scanning.
How to add your sitemap to RAMP:
- Navigate to “Settings” in the lower lefthand corner of RAMP.
- Select “Page Monitoring” from the horizontal menu bar.
- Add your sitemap path in the specified field (example: /sitemap.xml).
- Click “Save” at the bottom of the page.
Issues adding your sitemap? Check out our tips for troubleshooting sitemap issues.
Once you’ve added your sitemap path, your web pages will automatically be imported into RAMP. View the pages you’ve imported from the Pages tab.
When new pages are added to your sitemap, they will also be added to RAMP and scanned for accessibility issues. Accessible Web RAMP will not delete pages that are removed from your sitemap. Similarly, if RAMP automatically adds a page from your sitemap, which you later delete, we will not re-add the page to your RAMP account.
If your website has more pages than monthly scans in your plan, RAMP will automatically ingest all your website’s pages but will only scan the first pages until your monthly limit is exhausted. This will happen automatically. If you want more control over which pages are scanned, we recommend importing your web pages via CSV file upload, instead of by linking your sitemap.
Troubleshooting Sitemap Import Issues
Why aren’t pages scanning after linking a sitemap to RAMP?
Absent or Malformed Sitemap
If your website lacks a sitemap, don’t panic. It is also common for preview/staging environments to lack sitemaps. Instead of using your sitemap, you’ll just need to import pages into your RAMP account either individually or by uploading a CSV file.
If you’ve added your sitemap but RAMP is still unable to scan your pages, check that you’ve entered the correct domain for your website. The domain you entered for your website must match the domain of your sitemap.
If you enter “www.example.com” when your actual domain is “example.com,” RAMP won’t be able to use your sitemap to automatically scan your website. Check the domain you entered to ensure it matches up with your real domain and sitemap.
Extremely Large Sites or Multiple Sitemaps
While Accessible Web RAMP is capable of scanning and monitoring entire websites, sites with an exceedingly large number of pages may not be able to automatically scan.
If you think your site may be too large to scan automatically, contact us for help setting up your account. The upper limit on page scans can be overridden with approval.
Robots.txt Denies Access
Check your Robots.txt file for restrictions or crawl delays that might interfere with RAMP’s ability to scan your sitemap. Sometimes websites will restrict sitemap crawling in their robots.txt file. If your robots.txt restricts access and disallows sitemap crawling, Accessible Web RAMP won’t be able to automatically scan your sitemap.
If your sitemap is unable to scan or you don’t see any scanned pages in your RAMP account within 24 hours, contact our team for assistance setting up your account.
Alternative Methods for Importing Pages
Adding your sitemap to Accessible Web RAMP is the most efficient and accurate way to import pages into Console. Nonetheless, it isn’t the only way to add pages to RAMP. You can also import pages individually by URL path or in bulk by uploading a CSV file containing the sitemap paths of the pages you want to add to RAMP.
Additionally, if you’re having trouble adding pages into Accessible Web RAMP, you can always contact us for complimentary onboarding assistance.
Bulk Import Pages Using a CSV File
You can also bulk import web pages by uploading a CSV file of your URL paths. This can be done under the Page Monitoring tab of your RAMP account as well.
How to bulk import pages from a CSV file:
“Pages” > “Add” > “CSV Import”
Importing pages by CSV file is useful if a website lacks a functioning sitemap. This method of uploading pages also gives the website owner more control over which pages are added to RAMP and when. Users on our Small plan, for example, may choose to upload pages by CSV file so they can control exactly which pages they scan first without going over their 1,000-page scans/month limit.
The downside to importing pages via CSV file or individually is that you’ll need to manually add any new web pages to RAMP. When RAMP is linked to a sitemap, it automatically updates in response to sitemap changes, like the removal or addition of pages.
For help putting together and uploading a CSV file, get in touch with us.
Individually Add Pages by URL
Individual pages can be added to RAMP from the Pages tab. Just provide the URL path of the page you want to import and RAMP will do the rest.
How to upload individual pages in Accessible Web RAMP:
“Pages” > “Add” > “Single Page”
Adding pages individually works best for small websites or in instances where you want to pick and choose the pages you upload.
If you have a larger website and are trying to use a Small plan, we recommend adding pages individually to conserve your monthly page scans. Adding pages individually also allows you to prioritize your highest-traffic pages first for scanning.
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Troubleshooting & Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions you aren’t seeing the answers to? Get in contact with us.
My site currently has an overlay on it that performs DOM manipulation. How does RAMP handle this situation?
RAMP’s accessibility scanner tries its best to scan a webpage in the exact state that a typical new user will see it in. This means that if you have an overlay on your website, our scanner will attempt to load that overlay and the changes it makes to the HTML.
However, due to the way the overlay widgets work we may end up scanning the page before the DOM manipulation occurs. Here are some more technical details about this:
Knowing when a webpage is fully loaded is actually a difficult problem to solve. For example, a page might “look” fully loaded but actually there is a big gif loading in the background that suddenly pops into view 5 seconds later. Or maybe a webpage is in a continual state of loading, say, with a live chat that’s constantly loading in new chats. Or an analytics service sending pings to and from the browser every few seconds. How can you know which network requests will update the page and which won’t? You mostly can’t!
Because of this, our scanner has to draw the line in the sand somewhere and say “this is what a fully loaded web page looks like”. For our scanner, we define a webpage as “loaded” when there are 2 or fewer pending network requests (think loading images, stylesheets, gif, fonts, analytics, data fetching, etc) OR we’ve waited for 2 minutes (subject to change) and the page hasn’t made any significant progress. Once one of those conditions are met, we do our best to test the webpage in whatever state it may be in.
It’s important to note that the “final 2″ network requests are typically things like third party analytics or, sometimes, may be your overlay scripts. If overlay scripts are particularly heavy and are consistently some of the last things to load (and execute!!) on your website, you may experience “flaky” testing within RAMP depending on whether that overlay script was fully loaded or not.
Why am I still not seeing pages from my website show in RAMP?
If you are not seeing any pages within 24 hours after adding your sitemap to your Website Settings, then there may be a problem scanning your sitemap. Make sure that the sitemap you have specified is accessible to all users (ie. not behind any authentication), and that it contains valid sitemap xml. If you have verified those items, then your site may be blocking our bot. Make sure you don’t have any entries in your robots.txt file that would block our bot from reaching your sitemap. You can learn more about our bot here.
Why aren’t pages from my website showing up in RAMP?
Our bot currently scans sites for new pages twice a day, this is subject to change, but may be the reason you aren’t seeing the page yet. If the page still isn’t showing up after 24 hours, make sure that the page is present in the sitemap that you have specified in your Website Settings.
What is “Active Scanning Job” and how does Accessible Web RAMP schedule scanning jobs?
“Active Scanning Job” will show the current, automatically scheduled scanning job being processed. Accessible Web RAMP will periodically check your website for pages that need to be scanned based on the what you have specified as their preferred scanning frequency, and when they were last scanned. When it finds one, it will group it with other pages that are also due (or close to due) and scan them together in a “scanning job”. You can expect new pages to be scanned (or at least scheduled in a scanning job) within an hour of them being detected. If you manually request a single page to be scanned, you can expect the scan to complete much quicker than this, likely within 5 minutes.
What rules are being checked during the accessibility scan?
Accessible Web uses Axe Core to perform accessibility scans of the pages you request. We run the scan on your page and check for violations of WCAG 2.1 AA by default. If you would like to change the rules that we are checking for, you can adjust these settings in the RAMP Settings tab of you website. We support WCAG 2.0, 2.1 and 2.2 in A, AA and AAA, as well as best practices.
Is there a way to manually trigger a scan of a page?
Yes! Navigate to the page within your RAMP account, and click the Scan Page button.