Adding a Sitemap in Metalsmith

Christian Emmer
Christian Emmer
Jan 11, 2020 · 4 min read

Sitemaps are XML files that provide a list of all pages on a site that should be crawled by search engines, and they're very simple to add in Metalsmith.

Most of the pages on a site are probably linked together in one way or another, so search engine crawlers should be able to find them all, but sitemaps help list all pages in one (or more) places for efficiency. Sitemaps are also useful for when there exist pages that are isolated from others.

Project setup

To keep this article short and to the point we're not going to set up a full website, just enough to show sample usage. See "Starting a Metalsmith Project" for a more complete article on how to set up a Metalsmith project.

Starting a Metalsmith Project
Starting a Metalsmith Project
Sep 19, 2019 · 12 min read

Metalsmith is a plugin-based static site generator originally from Segment. It's a current favorite of mine because of how sites are built as a pipeline of plugins where the output of each plugin is the input of the next. This allows for strong control over what happens and when it happens.

Installing packages

Starting with an empty project, install some Metalsmith packages:

npm install --save metalsmith metalsmith-sitemap

Source file structure

Create the following directories and files for use in the build pipeline:

├── index.js
└── src
    ├── about.html
    └── index.html

We won't bother filling in those HTML files with content because it isn't necessary to demonstrate how metalsmith-sitemap works.

Writing the source files

Set up your index.js file like this:

const Metalsmith = require('metalsmith');
const sitemap    = require('metalsmith-sitemap');

const siteURL = '';

    .source('./src')         // source directory for the pipeline
    .use(sitemap({           // generate a sitemap file
        hostname: siteURL,
        omitIndex: true
    .destination('./build')  // destination directory of the pipeline
    .clean(true)             // clean the destination directory before build
    .build(function (err) {  // execute the build
        if (err) {
            throw err;

This will:

  • Copy src/index.html to build/index.html.
  • Copy src/about.html to build/about.html.
  • Generate build/sitemap.xml.

The options used for metalsmith-sitemap are:


Run the build command like normal:

node index

And you should see build/sitemap.xml exist with both pages listed:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="" xmlns:news="" xmlns:xhtml="" xmlns:mobile="" xmlns:image="" xmlns:video="">
<url> <loc></loc> </url>
<url> <loc></loc> </url>

Plugin options

There are some other options that exist in metalsmith-sitemap you could consider.

Here are some options that can be defaulted at the plugin level, as well as defined in each file's frontmatter:

  • changefreq indicates how a page is likely to change, but this is just a hint, so the value is questionable. The following values are supported: always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and never.

    changefreq: daily
    This page changes daily.
  • priority is a value between 0.0 and 1.0 that indicates how important a page is on your site, with a default of 0.5. The priority number isn't meaningful on its own, it's used to figure out relative priority to other pages on the same site. This is intended to affect which of your pages are most likely to show in a search index.

    priority: 1.0
    This is the highest priority page.
  • lastmod is the date the page was last modified.

    lastmod: 2020-01-01
    This page was last modified on a specific day.

An option that can't be defaulted at the plugin level but is useful at the individual file level is private. When true the file will be excluded from the sitemap.

private: true
This page won't be in the sitemap.

Additional thoughts

The frontmatter properties mentioned above (changefreq, priority, lastmod, and private) are completely optional and metalsmith-sitemap won't throw any exceptions if they don't exist so you may want to consider using metalsmith-validate or similar to make them required for certain sets of files.