XML Sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs of a website that you upload to Search Console to send URLs to Google and monitor their indexing—as it’s easy as that. Each URL will be followed by parameters that inform search engines how to communicate with each page.
Apart from the list of URLs, you will see some other elements that might be important to your SEO strategy:
Priority: This is going to tell Google what pages are more important when you crawl a web. This would not necessarily be taken into account to be truthful, but it is necessary to do so in order to present a more organized platform. Most of the time, search engines can just scan the robots.txt and pass ahead with the crawl. This value varies from 0.0 to 1, with 1 being the most significant page: the home page. This does not have any impact on rankings.
Changefreq: This informs search engines how many times this page is meant to change, because the Google bot can visit the page more frequently than others (following the indicated frequency).
Lastmod: Logically, this is when the page was last updated. But Google won’t pay too much attention to this unless it’s for a streaming publication or something where the breaking news will have a larger impact.
These parameters are optional, but note that you still have to use the urlset to encapsulate the file, the url tag to access the information block of the URL, and the loc to type in the actual URL.
Now you know that the XML Sitemap doesn’t have anything to do with the one on the footer that lists any connections, right? This one is called the HTML Sitemap.