What is an XML Sitemap? How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
Having an XML sitemap can be beneficial for SEO, as Google can retrieve essential pages of a website very fast, even if the internal linking of a site isn’t flawless.
What is a WordPress XML Sitemap?
A Sitemap is an XML file that lists the URLs for a site. It allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs in the site. This allows search engines to crawl the site more intelligently.
Sitemap is a list of pages on a website that is accessible to all users. An XML sitemap is a way for website owners to tell search engines about all the pages that exist on their website. WordPress XML sitemap also tells search engines which links on your website are more important than others and how frequently you update your website. While sitemaps do not boost your search rankings, it allows search engines to better crawl your website.
Why You Need an XML Sitemap?
An XML sitemap is not a shortcut to SEO. You still need good site structure and solid content. But unless your structure is near-perfect and you regularly tend to every single page that you consider important, the sitemap stands to help tremendously. If you inherited a large site, especially with a long-lived blog, you absolutely need an XML sitemap.
Having one has become especially important since Google launched its Panda update. Panda strives to eliminate duplicate content. That means, if your content is duplicated elsewhere, you’re competing for search ranking with whomever is using it. Putting a URL in your sitemap communicates that you are the original publisher. Whatever plugin you use will likely update automatically when you publish new content, so Google knows you put it out there first.
An XML sitemap is beneficial for for all websites, not just large ones, though it’s more crucial for large ones. Your sitemap can contain as many as 50,000 URLs. However, some plugins may reduce this limit to preserve fast upload times. In that case, you will need multiple sitemaps and an index to connect them.
For popular websites, sitemaps allow your website to interact with search engines more effectively. Search engines can guess how often your site is updated, which parts of your website are more frequently updated than others, set crawl rate for your site, etc. This improves the overall visibility of your site to search engines.
HOW TO CREATE AN XML SITEMAP?
You can create (and continuously update) an XML sitemap manually. However, a simpler route is to use a plugin like Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin .We use this plugin because it allows us to optimize our blog posts.along with offering other features such as sitemaps, social integration, and more. We have also noticed that it works more efficiently than other standalone sitemap generators for WordPress.
To add a sitemap to your WordPress site, first thing you need to do is install and activate WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. By default, WordPress SEO does not enable XML sitemap functionality, so you will have to turn it on. To do that go to SEO » XML Sitemaps and check the box to enable XML sitemap functionality.
When you check the box to enable XML sitemap functionality, WordPress SEO will show you a number of options that you can configure for your Sitemaps. If you are unsure about what to do with them, then ignore them and click on Save settings.
Now your sitemaps are generated and publicly accessible. WordPress SEO will show a XML Sitemap button which you can click to view your sitemap_index.xml sitemap.