XML sitemaps are blueprint files that not only allow search engine crawlers to find and scan all of your website’s essential pages but also help them comprehend site’s structure of your entire website.
Since the crawlers are AI bots (artificial intelligence), an XML sitemap for your WordPress site ensures that all of the pages on your website are easily accessible to crawlers.
In this guide, we’ll explain a WordPress sitemap and how to create one for your own site. We’ll also cover some tips for optimizing it to help improve its visibility in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Even though sitemaps are a common SEO suggestion, there needs to be more detailed knowledge about how XML sitemaps operate with WordPress.
To better understand, we’ll take a deep dive into WordPress sitemaps. you will gain an in-depth understanding of the following topics:
Here’s a list of what we’ll cover: Feel free to use the “Table of Contents” to jump from where you are reading to where you want to read.
- What Is An XML Sitemap?
- Why Do You Need an XML Sitemap?
- What Does An XML Sitemap Look Like?
- How An XML Sitemap Benefits Your WordPress Site?
- Can Add an XML Sitemap Hurt Your Site?
- How To Create A Sitemap For Your Website Using XML Sitemap Generator?
- How To Submit Your Sitemap To Google And Other Search Engines?
- How To Create An XML Sitemap For Your WordPress Site With Yoast SEO?
- Other WordPress Plugins To Help You Create An XML Sitemap
- Start Using Sitemaps For WordPress Today
What Is An XML Sitemap?
XML sitemaps are collaborative documents that list out the URLs you desire to be accessible for public viewing. Like robots.txt, XML sitemaps offer search engines such as Google a blueprint of all the content on your website, enabling them to crawl it more efficiently.
By providing more than a simple list of URLs in your sitemap, you can add valuable “metadata” to make it easier for search engines to understand and index your site. All these features are laid out in the Sitemaps protocol, allowing you to be specific about the following:
- What was the last date this page was updated?
- What level of importance would you like search engines to assign to this page? (Although search engines might not always adhere to this)
- How frequently will this page be updated?
Apart from the essential pieces of metadata, you can also pass along information about your video and image content to search engines.
Why You Need an XML Sitemap?
From an SEO standpoint, sitemaps are absolutely essential.
Adding a sitemap will have no direct impact on your search rankings. A sitemap allows search engines to recognize any page on your website that has not been indexed, thus increasing visibility and potential exposure.
When creating a new website or launching your blog, sitemaps are essential. This is especially true for websites that don’t have any backlinks as they provide an invaluable aid in quickly getting indexed by search engines. This impedes search engines from accurately and completely accessing all the content you have to offer.
Search engines like Google and Bing offer website owners the ability to submit a sitemap in their webmaster tools, recognizing that it is an essential element of optimizing your visibility online. With this capability, search engine bots can effortlessly uncover and catalog your content (we’ll cover more on this soon).
Established and well-known websites should not overlook the importance of sitemaps. Utilizing these tools allows you to emphasize which aspects of your website are more critical and which parts need regular updates. This way, search engines can quickly and accurately index all your content.
What Does An XML Sitemap Look Like?
Ever questioned what an XML sitemap looks like in practice? At DigitalTopical, our WordPress post sitemap appears as follows:
Example of an XML sitemap
How An XML Sitemap Benefits Your WordPress Site?
An XML sitemap can significantly enhance a website’s crawlability. According to Google’s own words, “search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site.”
Here are some distinct advantages of using XML sitemaps to maximize your website’s crawlability:
- Faster crawl times – Sitemaps can be incredibly beneficial to search engine robots as they are able to rapidly access your website content, resulting in a faster indexing process. This can result in your content getting indexed quickly, significantly speeding up access to the web.
- Prioritized crawls – Sitemaps afford you the opportunity to request Google to prioritize certain pages on your website by adding metadata, thus enabling more efficient crawling.
- Rich media content – if you use lots of media like videos and images, “Google can take additional information from sitemaps into account for search, where appropriate.” (source)
Not only do sitemaps optimize your website’s crawl ability, but they also offer additional backdoor ways by providing you with valuable insights.
To acquire the insights, your XML sitemap should be submitted to Google Search Console, you can analyze your data quickly to ascertain how effective you are at getting your pages indexed in Google.
How To Create A Sitemap Using XML Sitemap Generator without WordPress Plugin Installation?
Prefer not to use WordPress plugins? Do you need something that isn’t WordPress? You can use the independent tool XML Sitemap Generator for a straightforward solution to easily construct an XML sitemap.
XML sitemap generators are like the followings:
- A cloud-based tool
- A desktop program for Windows
Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to use the cloud tool:
- Go to XML Sitemap Generator
- Scroll down, and click on the Online Generator option:
XML Sitemap Generator
- Click on the “Online Generator” button.
- Enter the URL on the “website’s homepage.”
- Enter the last modified date.
- Choose the change frequency: how often your pages change.
- Select the default crawl priority.
- On “General Settings” enter your email address.
- Click the “Generate Sitemap” button.
For optimal results, be sure to upload your sitemap file into the root directory of your website.
How To Submit Your XML Sitemap File To Google And Other Search Engines
In order to take the basic SEO efforts to the next level, you should submit your XML sitemap to the main search engines. Submitting your XML sitemap to Google is only possible with a registered account on Google Search Console. Doing so will ensure that all your pages are indexed and visible in organic searches.
If you don’t have Google Search Console, check out my posting on signing up and verifying your website with Google Search Console.
How to submit a sitemap to Google
- Click on the “Sitemap” button in the left panel.
- Paste in “yoursit.com/sitemap_index.xml”
- Click the “Submit” button.
Next, insert the final part of your sitemap URL into the ‘Add a new sitemap’ field and press Submit to complete this step.
By providing your sitemap to the Google Search Console, you can now leverage the immense power of Google. With this one simple step, you will be able to improve visibility and reach for your website dramatically.
It might take a few days for Google to crawl and index your website fully, but eventually, you will be able to see helpful sitemap stats that provide insight into how well your site is performing.
Google provides abundant data about your site, including the number of links listed in your sitemap, which ones were indexed, and the comparative number of images to webpages. Additionally, this information can reveal much more meaningful insights that can help you optimize and improve website performance.
Submitting Your XML Sitemap to Bing
Like Google Search Console, Bing is a revolutionary platform that equips website owners with the ultimate power – Bing Webmaster Tools – This tool enables them to track, analyze and optimize their website’s visibility on Bing.
For your website to be indexed in Bing, take a moment and visit the Bing Webmaster Tools portal, where you can easily submit your sitemap. Doing this will ensure that all of your webpages are discoverable.
Here, you can select between two distinct steps to add your site. Accessing your site from Google Search Console is simpler than ever with just a single click of the button. If you want, adding the item manually is just as easy.
If you’ve already included your site in Google Search Console, I highly recommend importing it. It saves time as your sitemap will automatically be imported for you.
If you choose to add your site manually, you need to enter your site’s URL and verify the site.
To confirm the authenticity of your website, Bing offers several methods that you can use to verify ownership.
For maximum efficiency, I highly recommend using the Meta tag method. To precisely migrate the meta tagline on your WordPress site, simply copy it from its current page and paste it into the admin panel. Utilizing this method will guarantee a successful migration of your meta tagline.
Take advantage of the WPCode Free Plugin to ensure a smooth user experience and become even more successful.
Once activated, stroll over to the Code Snippets page in the ‘Header & Footer’ section and insert your copied code into that specified area.
Don’t forget to hit the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your alterations.
How To Create An XML Sitemap For Your WordPress Site With RankMath?
For the ultimate in convenience and accuracy, I highly recommend investing in RankMath to optimize your website. This plugin will prove invaluable as you boost visibility and increase traffic.
To create an XML sitemap with RankMath, you don’t need to do anything but install and activate the free RankMath plugin. It’s quick, easy, and mighty.
Rank Math’s initial Setup Wizard will feature a Sitemap setup, which can be found here.
Rank Math’s Sitemap settings have been divided into clearly-defined tabs to render them easier to understand and configure. Here is how the settings should appear.
For every Global Sitemap configuration, the General Section is your ultimate destination. Here, you have the autonomy to arrange your sitemaps as per your preference, along with several foundational settings that will determine how they operate.
Check out the settings located in the General Section to get started.
To keep your sitemap more organized, you can divide it into different pages and this setting will determine the maximum number of items to display on each page.
Google limits sitemaps to a maximum of 50,000 URLs. Unless you’re using a dedicated server which is able to handle such an enormous demand, it’s recommended that you do not exceed this number. The best way forward would be splitting up the Sitemaps into smaller groups – doing so will help search engines quickly and efficiently crawl all your URLs.
Initially, the default value for this setting was set to 1000. After careful consideration, we have concluded that Google performs optimally with smaller pages in its sitemaps. Therefore, we suggest reducing the value to 200 – our recommended setting.
Other WordPress Plugins To Help You Create An XML Sitemap
RankMath is one of the most recommended tools to generate an XML sitemap for WordPress, yet it’s not your singular choice.
If you’re looking for other top-notch plugins, look no further than these:
- Google XML Sitemaps – A widely-used plugin exclusively devoted to XML sitemaps rather than SEO as a whole.
- The SEO Framework – An innovative SEO plugin with XML sitemap features for optimized website results.
XML sitemaps are an essential tool for maximizing your website’s SEO value. Providing a comprehensive list of URLs and metadata can help search engines crawl and index your site more efficiently. With a strong internal and external linking structure, your site’s SEO value can be significantly improved, resulting in better search rankings and increased traffic.