Search engines crawl the internet to find and index website pages. Over the years, search engines have become sophisticated and crawl efficiently, but they still expect the website to guide them by presenting an index of all the web pages.
When a search engine crawler comes to a website, it checks out the sitemap to locate all the site’s web pages. A WordPress Sitemap lets those crawlers index those web pages efficiently. That is the primary reason why sitemaps form the basis of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of any website.
What Is WordPress Sitemap?
A sitemap is a smart technique for indexing the website quickly. Instead of crawling through all the links one by one, search engine bots go through the URLs listed in the sitemap and index them. In the process, they pick up essential information about the web pages, such as the last update timestamp and the page’s importance.
Sitemaps have no direct impact on your site’s SERP ranking. However, they are essential for indexing your site to be included in the search engine results. New websites would find it challenging to achieve SERP rankings independently without the support of backlinks.
Another important aspect of implementing sitemaps is to keep the search engines updated with your website’s structure. If you update your website or add a new page, these changes will only reflect in SERP if you include the sitemap changes. Even after this, the changes could only be visible after the next visit of the search engines bots.
Difference Between XML and HTML Sitemap
There are two types of sitemaps: an XML sitemap and HTML. The difference between these two is that the XML sitemaps are for the search engines and HTML sitemaps are for humans (to provide a visual aid to users). XML sitemaps are specifically written for the search engine spider to extract the information of your site by looking at the XML file.
Why Do You Need Sitemap on Your WordPress?
Sitemaps improve the search engine visibility of your site because sitemaps assist search engine bots in finding and indexing your website. With the help of a sitemap, you can point out the important pages for the search engine to crawl.
If you have new content with no backlinks, Google will have difficulty discovering your content and might not index it. If your content does not index, it won’t rank on the search results.
With a sitemap, you’re letting search engines like Google and Bing know where to find pages or blogs on your site. The crawler will discover the pages and index them.
After getting the initial information about sitemap, you are now ready to learn how to create a sitemap in WordPress.
There are different methods to create a sitemap on a WordPress website. I’ll show you three popular ones. You can choose what works best for you.
Method 1: How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress With Plugins
In this method, the plugin does all the work, and you get an updated XML file that you can deploy on the site. I will use three WordPress Sitemap plugins for creating an XML sitemap for your websites. The plugins are:
- Yoast SEO
- All in One SEO Pack
- XML Sitemaps By Auctollo
Let’s explore each of the plugins one by one and see how we can create a sitemap in WordPress with them.
Yoast SEO is one of the best plugins for Search Engine Optimization. It automatically turns on XML sitemaps for your WordPress website.
- First, you need to install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin.
- Login to your WordPress website, and navigate to Plugin → Add New.
- Search Yoast SEO (plugin name) on the top-right search bar.
- Once you find out the required plugin, click on the install button and activate it after the installation.
- Now, navigate to SEO → General, and click on the Features tab. Enable the XML sitemaps option and save the changes.
The XML sitemap is enabled now on your WordPress site. The plugin will continue to update the XML sitemap. Click on the question mark tooltip icon to see your WordPress Sitemap.
All in One SEO Pack
You can create a sitemap in WordPress with the All in One SEO plugin. They claim that you shouldn’t have to hire an SEO expert or developer to set up WordPress SEO correctly.
- First, you need to install the All in One SEO plugin on your WordPress website. You can follow the same installation process as I discussed above.
- Go to the SEO → Sitemaps. All in One SEO will enable the Sitemap feature on your WordPress website by default.
- You can see the preview of your sitemap by clicking on the Open Sitemap button. The other option is to add the ‘sitemap.xml’ at the end of your website URL, such as www.example.com/sitemap.xml.
- You can also customize the sitemap settings by managing sitemap indexes, including or excluding post types and taxonomies.
- If your site has stand-alone external pages, you can also add these pages in your sitemap from the Additional Pages section.
- Some advanced settings are also included in the All in One SEO plugin. You can Exclude Posts / Pages, Exclude Terms, set the Priority Score, Post Type Priority Score, Taxonomy Priority Score, and Exclude Images.
All in One SEO is a feature-rich plugin, and you have to explore the plugin’s options not just to create a sitemap on WordPress but also for SEO purposes as well.
XML Sitemaps By Auctollo
The Google XML Sitemaps plugin has advanced sitemap settings for the quick submission of your sitemap to search engines.
- Install and activate the plugin. Go to Settings → XML-Sitemap.
- The XML Sitemap plugin automatically creates a sitemap on WordPress. You’ll see the URL to your sitemap index file at the top of the settings page.
- Scroll down the XML-Sitemap page. Under the Basic Options section, you can enable the options to notify search engines about your site updates.
Method 2: How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress With XML Sitemap Generator
The other method to create a sitemap on WordPress is through the online tool XML Sitemap Generator.
- Click on the Online Generator button. You’ll be redirected to the Web Page Settings page.
- Fill out the information and click on the Generate Sitemap button.
- Once the XML sitemap is generated, you can download it and upload it to your WordPress site.
- The last step would be to link it with Google Search Console (that I’ll discuss in the next heading of this article)
Submit an XML Sitemap to Google
Creating a sitemap for your WordPress site is just part of the job. To complete the task and maximize the benefits, you also need to submit it to Google.
- First, you need to select the property type. Select the Domain option, enter your domain name and click the Continue button.
- Add TXT Record from the Google Search Console to your DNS server to verify the domain name.
- After the verification, go to the Google Search Console Dashboard and click on the Sitemaps from the left-side menu bar.
- Enter your sitemap URL under the Add a new sitemap section, and click on the Submit button to finalize the process.
That’s it! You have successfully submitted your sitemap to Google. The process of submitting sitemaps to other search engines like Bing is quite similar.
A sitemap is an essential element for any website’s SEO. It is an easy and effective way of telling the search engine about the web pages active on your website.
Now you know the types of sitemaps and why it is essential for indexing web pages in search engines. You also explored WordPress plugins and methods for creating XML sitemaps, such as the Sitemap generator for WordPress and HTML sitemap. In the end, you see how to submit your XML sitemap to Google.
Q: What is a sitemap?
A: A sitemap is a list of all the web pages quickly crawled by the search engine bots and helps your website indexed quicker. There are two kinds of sitemaps: XML and HTML.
Q: Where can I find my Sitemap in WordPress?
A: You can find out the sitemap configuration option mainly in the settings, but this can vary depending upon the WordPress Sitemap plugin you are using.
Q: Does WordPress create a sitemap?
A: Yes, since WordPress 5.5 version, they’ve included a basic XML sitemap feature. It allows you to automatically create an XML sitemap in WordPress without using a plugin.
Q: How do I manually create a sitemap in WordPress?
A: If you wish to create a sitemap in WordPress manually, use a Sitemap Generator tool and upload the downloaded XML file.
Q: How do I export a WordPress sitemap?
A: Visit the URL of your sitemap and save the page. Similarly, various plugins give the option to download the XML sitemap file.
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Danish Naseer is a WordPress Community Manager at Cloudways. He is passionate about designing, developing, and engaging with people to help them. He also actively participates in the community to share his knowledge. Besides that, he loves to watch documentaries, traveling and spending time with family. You can contact him at [email protected]