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How-to 8 min read September 5, 2019

How to create an XML image sitemap

How to create an XML image sitemap
How to create an XML image sitemap

Stacy Mine
Editor at Serpstat
Put simply, an XML Image sitemap is a file that helps search engines correctly scan and index images on a website.

Do all sites need a sitemap for images?

For most websites, the image XML sitemap is not that necessary. If your images are used within your website content, they will be present in your sitemap. In this case, having a separate sitemap for images could be redundant.

If images are the primary focus or a significat part of your website, you're definitely the exception. Photographers, for instance, will certainly benefit from providing Google with a separate image sitemap.

Why do you need an image sitemap?

If you don't create an image sitemap, some of them will not be indexed or will create errors in the main sitemap. Please note that content downloaded via JavaScript cannot be found by Google.
Why you need Google sitemap
If the Google Search Console points you to a sitemap error, it might have a negative impact on your rankings in search results.
Map indexing for images can be seen in the Search Console panel next to the main sitemap:
Sitemap analysis in search console
In addition, users often search specifically for images on Google. When they find the right one, they will visit the website.

To increase your chances of getting into Google Images, creating an Image Sitemap is a great way to go. Also, don't neglect filling in the title and alt attributes correctly. They are proven to have a positive impact on image ranking.

How to create an XML Image Sitemap

Create a separate file for the pictures that organizes the information about them, thus, they are more likely to get indexed. Or edit the existing sitemap.xml file of the website by adding the appropriate tags to the root of the website.

#1 Manual creation of the sitemap

Image sitemap uses the following syntax:
sitemap syntax for images
Through such rendering, you can specify information about up to a thousand images on one page. As you can see, only HTML tags are used here, as opposed to links that are used when creating a normal sitemap.

The tag information that we used can be easily found in the support section:
Image tags in sitemap images
If you are creating a separate image sitemap, provide a link to it in the robots.txt, as in the example below. Or specify the image sitemap in the overall sitemap.
User-agent: Google
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes
Disallow: /wp-login.php
Disallow: *?
Disallow: /tag/
Disallow: /trackback/


Creating a map manually is only cost-effective if the website is small, and the number of images is not changing. In all other cases, use automatic solutions.

#2 Automated generation of the sitemap

Most services you create an image sitemap with are paid. Among the free ones, there is All you need to do is insert a link to your website in the field:
Free generate a sitemap
After a few minutes, the map will be ready and displayed in the field below:
XML site map for images
Copy the resulting XML to a text file on your computer; it is more convenient to do it in the Notepad. Name your file sitemap-image.xml or use any other name that works for you:
Saving site map for images
Save the document in the All files format:
Saving images sitemap
When you're done with the previous step, upload the file to the root folder of your website. If there is no common map for your sitemaps, edit the robots.txt file by placing the image sitemap next to the main sitemap. To speed up the processing, you can add your sitemap to Google Search Console:
Add sitemap to Google Search Console
The tool for working with sitemaps is located on the main page of the panel. Click on it and go to the working area.
Search Console Sitemaps
Your map will be processed by the search and displayed separately in the working area of sitemaps.

#3 Netpeak Spider

Netpeak Spider is a tool for conducting a comprehensive website audit. In addition, with this tool, you can generate an image sitemap.

The tool is paid and provides a 14-day trial period. It will be enough to create a sitemap for free. Download the software through Netpeak Launcher and log into your account. To get a sitemap, you need to configure several parameters.

In the upper panel, select Tools and Sitemap Generator, as shown in the screenshot:
Sitemap Netpeak Spider Generator
Set up the image sitemap:
Setting image map in Netpeak Spider
You will obtain a file that will contain links to all images. If there is no image on the page, the link to such a page will not be added to the Image Sitemap.

In addition, there are plugins for CMS that automatically generate all the sitemaps and the website tree. For example, for WordPress, there are Yoast, Udinra, and others. The Yoast plugin automatically includes an image sitemap when generating the main sitemap.
Site Map in Yoast SEO Plugin
Undira also generates an image sitemap automatically:
Undira site map generation
Choose a tool carefully, taking into account the plugins that are already installed on the website in order to prevent any plugin conflicts.


An XML image sitemap is created in order to increase the chances of getting into Google Images search results. The theme of your website is the key factor for deciding whether you need . Thus, if your website is dedicated to writing terms papers, then the image search is irrelevant for you. On the other hand, if you have a clothing store, it's the opposite.

If your website has a relevant subject, the image search may generate additional traffic.

How to make a sitemap manually? Google Technical Support lists all tags which are required for this. However, it's easier and faster to use automatic generation. We have described among the free tools. This system independently creates a file that you need to rename and save in the All Files format.

Another tool that helps to automatically generate an Image Sitemap is Netpeak Spider. The tool provides a trial version for 14 days. Download and install the software on your computer and go to the generator section.

Upload the created document to the root folder of your website. Do not forget to register its presence in robots.txt or create a link in the sitemap. To accelerate the document indexing, you should additionally upload it to the Search Console.


How does sitemap XML improve SEO?

You can increase your image content SEO by uploading an XML Image Sitemap to the major search engines. This encourages them to visit your site, locate, and index your photographs. This boosts your image content's SEO value.

This article is a part of Serpstat's Checklist tool
Checklist at Serpstat
Checklist is a ready-to-do list that helps to keep reporting of the work progress on a specific project. The tool contains templates with an extensive list of project development parameters where you can also add your own items and plans.
Try Checklist now

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