Are you looking to create a sitemap for your WordPress website?
Sitemaps help search engines to crawl and index your website with ease. Think of them as road maps but for search engine bots. And they’re important for your site’s search engine optimization (SEO).
In this article, we’ll explain how to create a sitemap in WordPress step by step. But first…
What is a Sitemap?
Sitemaps are XML (extensible markup language) files that contain a list of important pages of your website. It helps search engines to navigate your site and index content that you want to rank.
These files are written in XML format because it’s machine-readable and makes it easier for the search engine crawlers to read them.
A sitemap tells Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and other search engines where your content is located, when was the page last updated, how important is the page for your website, and more information.
However, don’t confuse XML sitemaps with HTML sitemaps. A simple difference between the two is that HTML is for your users and helps them navigate through the website.
On the other hand, XML is for the search engines, contains metadata along with your site’s URLs, and is not visible to users.
So, how important are sitemaps for your website? Let’s find out…
Why Do You Need an XML Sitemap?
Since sitemaps assist search engine bots in finding and indexing your website pages, it helps improve your search engine visibility.
Let’s say you have a new blog that has no backlinks. Google will have difficulty discovering your content and might not index it. And if it can’t index your page, it can’t rank on the search results.
But with a sitemap, you’re letting Google know where to find the page on your site. As a result, the crawler will discover all your pages and index them.
That’s why search engines like Google and Bing provide an option for website owners to submit their sitemaps.
And if you’re an established business or have a large website, you can use the sitemap to point out the important pages for the search engine to crawl.
With that, are you ready to learn how to create a sitemap?
How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
WordPress generates a basic sitemap on its own, but it includes anything that you might have no-indexed. This can cause errors on your site.
There’s also no way to customize the default WordPress sitemap unless you know PHP code.
That’s why when it comes to creating a sitemap in WordPress, we recommend using a plugin.
Just follow these steps and your sitemap will be ready in a matter of seconds.
Step 1: Install and Activate All in One SEO Plugin
The first step is to add the All in One SEO plugin to your WordPress website.
Go to Plugins from your dashboard and click Add New. Now lookup All in One SEO in the search bar and hit Install Now.
Once the plugin installs, click Activate and you should see an SEO option in your site’s dashboard panel.
If you need more detailed instructions, take a look at this tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin.
Step 2: View Enabled Sitemap in All in One SEO
The best part of the All in One SEO plugin is that the sitemap is enabled by default. So, all you have to do is install All in One SEO and you’re all set!
But to double-check that the sitemap is enabled, go to All in One SEO » Sitemaps from your WordPress dashboard.
Then, go to the Enable Sitemap option and make sure that the button is toggled On.
Step 3: Verify Your Site’s Sitemap
After making sure the sitemap is enabled, you can verify your website’s sitemap.
To do that, you can simply click on the Open Sitemap button.
After clicking the button, you’ll see an index page for your sitemap that looks something like this:
By default, All in One SEO will create sitemaps for your posts, pages, and categories. And if you have an online store like a WooCommerce store or have any products listed, then it will set up a sitemap for them as well.
You can also manually test or view your sitemap. To do that, visit your website URL and add /sitemap.xml in the end.
For example, your URL should look something like this: https://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml
Now that your XML sitemap is ready, it will automatically send all new updates to Google and Bing.
Wasn’t that easy?
If you want to customize your sitemap settings further, keep reading.
Customizing Your Sitemap
Now that you’ve double-checked your sitemap is enabled and you know how to view your sitemap, let’s look at some settings you can configure.
First, you can decide whether you want to have an index page for your sitemap.
This setting is recommended for sitemaps that contain over 1000 URLs. So, if you have a smaller site, like less than a few hundred URLs, you can disable this setting.
To do this, go to All in One SEO » Sitemaps and toggle the Enable Sitemap Indexes button to Disabled.
If you’re unsure, you can always leave it enabled.
Next, you can change the Links Per Sitemap setting if you want. Although, we recommend most users leave this setting as-is.
You can also decide which content to include in your sitemap. Here you can choose to include all Post Types and all Taxonomies by leaving the boxes checked.
However, if you uncheck these boxes, you’ll see a list of all the different post types and taxonomies.
Then, you can check the individual boxes to decide exactly what content you want to include in your sitemap.
Lastly, you can choose whether to include Date Archives and Author Archives in your sitemap by enabling or disabling the options below:
These are automatically created by WordPress when you publish new posts on your site.
But, we recommend leaving these options disabled because they don’t have much value in search results.
That’s it! You’ve made it to the end of the guide.
We hope you liked our article on how to create a sitemap in WordPress. You can also take a look at our post on how to properly set up Google Analytics in WordPress.