Table of Content
- What is an XML Sitemap in WordPress Websites?
- Benefits of Creating XML Sitemaps in WordPress Websites
- How are XML Sitemaps Different from HTML Sitemaps?
- How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
- Submitting the WordPress XML Sitemap to Search Engines
- FAQs Related to Creating a Sitemap for WordPress Websites
Websites often have a variety of service pages and blogs, which are interconnected through various links, forming a complex structure. To explore this structure is not an easy feat. That’s where an XML sitemap comes in. An XML sitemap ensures that search engine crawlers can read these links to index the website. This feature ensures a better ranking for the website on the SERPs.
WordPress developers use a sitemap to have the search crawlers navigate and index the website’s content more easily. It’s like a directory listing all the pages, posts, and other valuable information on your website. That makes the crawlers understand the structure of the website and ultimately improves its visibility in search results.
In this tutorial, we’ll cover everything you need to know about XML sitemaps in WordPress websites. You’ll learn how beneficial they are and how they differ from HTML sitemaps. Plus, we’ve discussed creating a sitemap in a WordPress website and submitting it to the search engines.
What is an XML Sitemap in WordPress Websites?
An XML sitemap in WordPress is a specially formatted file listing all your website’s pages, posts, and other important content. It is designed specifically for search engines to crawl and index easily. Plus, it provides search engine bots with valuable info about the structure and organization of your website’s content.
Unlike the visual sitemap that may be used for human visitors to navigate a website, the XML sitemap is not meant to be seen by regular users. Rather, it’s an XML file with a standardized structure to be read by search engines crawlers. The XML sitemap contains essential details about the pages and posts on your WordPress website. That includes the URL, the last modification date, the frequency of updates, and the priority of the page relative to other web pages on the site.
So the search engines can prioritize which pages to crawl and how frequently to revisit them. That ensures the most relevant and up-to-date content is indexed and displayed in the SERPs. XML sitemaps can help improve your website’s overall visibility and rank in search engine results to ensure more organic traffic.
Benefits of Creating XML Sitemaps in WordPress Websites
Creating XML sitemaps for WordPress websites offers a host of valuable benefits. It can significantly enhance the website’s visibility, SEO value, and overall user experience. Here are a few reasons why WordPress specialists use XML sitemaps:
1. Improved Search Engine Visibility
XML sitemaps are like a roadmap for search engine crawlers. It provides a clear and organized list of all the important pages and content on your website. By submitting your XML sitemap to search engines, you ensure they can easily discover and index your web pages. That increases the odds of your site being displayed in relevant search results.
2. Effective Indexing of Content
Websites with extensive content, complex structures, or dynamic pages may face challenges in getting all their pages indexed by search engines. XML sitemaps offer a solution by providing a complete list of URLs. That includes the ones that might not be easily accessible through regular navigation or internal linking. It enables search engines to index even deep and less frequently visited pages. That contributes to improving the overall visibility of your content.
3. Faster Indexing of New Content
When you publish new posts or pages on your WordPress website, it may take some time for Google and search engines to discover and index them. XML sitemaps help expedite this process by notifying search engines about the updates. That ensures your fresh content gets indexed faster and becomes searchable sooner.
4. Prioritization & Frequency Control
XML sitemaps allow you to specify the priority and update frequency of each page. By providing this information to search engines, a WordPress web development agency can influence how they allocate their crawling resources and how often they revisit specific pages. That helps prioritize essential content and ensure it remains up-to-date in search engine databases.
5. Easy Debugging & Monitoring
Many XML sitemap plugins for WordPress offer monitoring and error reporting features. These tools help you identify any issues with your sitemap, such as broken links or missing pages, allowing you to fix them promptly. That ensures your sitemap remains updated and fully functional.
6. Compliance with Web Standards
XML sitemaps adhere to standard protocols. That makes them universally compatible with various search engines. By creating and maintaining a valid XML sitemap, you ensure that your website is following best practices for search engine indexing.
By providing a comprehensive and well-organized overview of your website’s content, XML sitemaps offer numerous benefits, including increased search engine visibility, faster indexing of new content, and an improved user experience. Incorporating XML sitemaps into your WordPress site is a valuable step toward optimizing your online presence. Plus, it ensures your content achieves better visibility.
How are XML Sitemaps Different from HTML Sitemaps?
XML sitemaps are machine-readable files in XML format designed for search engines to efficiently crawl and index website content. They focus on SEO and efficient crawling. Rather than direct human interaction, XML sitemaps are strictly meant for search engine bots and automated processes.
They are generated automatically using plugins or software tools for SEO purposes and updated dynamically as content changes.
On the other hand, HTML sitemaps are human-readable, organized lists of web page links for users. These sitemaps are written in human-readable web pages in HTML and help website visitors navigate and find specific content easily.
In essence, both sitemaps contribute to website organization and better traffic, but they serve different purposes and audiences.
How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
Like any other feature or functionality, there are two ways of creating a sitemap in a WordPress website. The more knowledgeable and technically proficient can create the sitemap in WordPress manually. But those who don’t have the necessary coding skills and experience can opt for the plugins.
Method 1: Creating XML Sitemaps in WordPress Websites Manually
Although manually creating the sitemaps in WordPress websites helps specify more exact info for the search engines, the process is more time-consuming. That is especially true if the website has too many links (generally more than 10) to be specified to the search engines. But on the plus side, your sitemap will be more comprehensive.
Let’s start the step-by-step process for the same.
Step 1: First, identify and list the URLs of all pages and posts on your website for your WordPress sitemap. Make sure to include the full URL, starting with “https://” or “http://”, and include the domain name and the page path.
Step 2: To create a WordPress sitemap, first, open a text or code editor, like Notepad (for Windows users) or maybe Nano (for macOS users).
Step 3: Create a new file and save it with the extension “.xml”. For example, “sitemap.xml”.
Step 4: Write the XML Content with the URLs you identified in the first step. Use the proper XML syntax to create the <urlset> element. Nest each URL within its corresponding <url> element, including the required child elements.
Here’s an example.
Step 5: After creating the XML sitemap file and saving it with “.xml”, upload it to the WordPress directory structure either using FTP or hosting cPanel.
Step 6: Once the sitemap is uploaded successfully, it should be accessible via “https://www.example.com/sitemap.xml”.
After you create a sitemap and upload it to the root directory, you may want to validate it through the sitemap validator. All you have to do is enter the sitemap URL in the field. Then click on the “Validate Sitemap” button to check if there are any issues.
Post the creation, uploading, and validation process, we can move forward to submitting the WordPress sitemap to the search engines.
But before that, there is a simpler method to create a sitemap for WordPress websites. We’ll discuss that next. However, if you want to benefit from the flexibility offered by this method but don’t have the necessary experience, there is a way around it. You may get in touch with WordPress experts to create the sitemap manually. They’ll create a tailored WordPress sitemap, so you can have your website crawled by the search engines just the way you want.
Method 2: Creating a Site Map Using WordPress Plugins
The biggest asset of WordPress is its plugins, as they help integrate outstanding features and functionalities into the website in no time at all. Although almost every SEO plugin helps create XML sitemaps for your website, the easiest one to use is the “XML Sitemap Generator for Google“.
Let’s see how you can create sitemaps for your WordPress website with this plugin.
Step 1: Like any plugin, download and install the XML Sitemap Generator for Google from the WordPress plugin repository.
Step 2: Now, log into the WordPress Admin Dashboard, navigate to “Plugins”, and activate this Google XML sitemaps plugin. The highlight of this plugin is that it automatically generates XML sitemaps for the WordPress website.
Step 3: Now, go to Settings in the dashboard and click on XML Sitemap.
Step 4: On the subsequent screen, you’ll see the URL to your sitemap index file. Click it, and you’ll see the whole sitemap index.
Step 5: Under the “Basic Options”, you’ll see three checkboxes. Two are for notifying Google and Bing (the most popular search engines) about any updates on your website. And the third one is to add the sitemap URL to the virtual robots.txt file of your website. Make sure to turn on all of them.
That concludes the process of creating and adding the WordPress sitemaps to the website. But wait. The process is not over until search engines are made aware of these sitemaps. So that’s what we’ll take care of next.
Submitting the WordPress XML Sitemap to Search Engines
It’s not merely enough to just create a sitemap for your WordPress website. You’ll also need to submit it to the search engines so that they can index and rank your website.
Sitemaps in WordPress can help notify search engines about any changes or new content updated on the website. Plus, it ensures only the relevant info from your website is indexed.
Here’s how you can submit the WordPress sitemap URL to the search engines.
Step 1: Log into the Google Search Console with your Google account.
Step 2: You’ll see two options on the screen: Domain & URL Prefix. Select “Domain” if you want to index all URLs across the domain.
Step 3: Enter the domain name of your WordPress website and click “Continue”.
Step 4: In the Google Search Console, you’ll find the TXT Record. Add the info from this record to your DNS server.
Step 5: Go to the Sitemaps section of the Google Search Console on the left-hand-side of the screen. On the subsequent screen, add your WordPress sitemap URL.
Now, Google will start indexing your WordPress website quite effectively. You can even check out the status of your submitted sitemaps from this platform. Plus, it will offer you feedback on how you can optimize your WordPress website using the resource documentation.
Step 1: Sign into the Bing Webmaster Tools using your Microsoft, Google, or Facebook account.
Step 2: If you sign in through your Google account, you’ll have two options. If you have submitted your WordPress sitemap to Google beforehand, you can import your sites from the Google Search Console.
Step 2: If you haven’t yet done the sitemap URL submission on Google, then you have another way forward. You can manually add your site by entering the URL. Then, click on “Add”.
Step 3: On the subsequent screen, navigate to Sitemaps and click on “Submit Sitemap”.
Step 4: Then, you can add your WordPress sitemap URL to notify Bing to index your website.
After you have submitted the sitemap of your WordPress website, you can check the indexing status via the “Site Explorer” section. But if you find it confusing or complex to generate sitemap XML and submit it to the search engines, a WordPress development agency might help.
FAQs Related to Creating a Sitemap for WordPress Websites
Let’s say you have created a high-quality website with all the latest features and functionalities like voice search, AI assistant, and more. Then you must be looking to have it rank well on the SERPS (search engine result pages) for higher search traffic. But alas, it won’t. At least, not without a WordPress sitemap.
You can create sitemaps in two ways: Manually and using WordPress plugins. Now after creating the XML sitemaps, you’ll need to consider the sitemap crawlers for the search engines. So we have discussed the submission methods for two search engines: Google and Bing. After creating the WordPress sitemap and submitting it to the search engines, you can expect better rankings on the SERPs. If you want to implement a WordPress sitemap or any other SEO strategy for your website, consult our SEO experts now!