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?
When it comes to creating a sitemap in WordPress, you’ll need a plugin. That’s because WordPress doesn’t create one on its own.
Just follow these steps and your sitemap will be ready in a matter of seconds.
Step 1: Install and Activate Yoast SEO Plugin
The first step is to add the Yoast SEO plugin to your WordPress website.
Go to Plugins from your dashboard and click Add New. Now lookup Yoast 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.
Step 2: Activate XML Sitemaps Feature
The next step is to switch on sitemaps from the Yoast SEO plugin. For that, go to SEO » General and then select Features from the top menu.
Now scroll down and navigate to XML sitemaps feature and make sure it’s On.
Hit Save changes once you’re done so all your settings are stored.
Step 3: Verify Your Site’s Sitemap
After activating the option in Yoast SEO, you can verify your website’s sitemap. To do that, you can simply add sitemap_index.xml at the end of your domain address.
For instance, your URL should look something like this: https://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
By default, Yoast SEO will create sitemaps for your posts, pages, authors, 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.
Now that your XML sitemap is ready, you’ll have to submit it to search engines.
How to Submit a Sitemap to Google?
To submit your newly created sitemap to Google, you’ll need to use Google Search Console. It’s a free tool by Google and lets you track your site’s performance on search results.
Submitting a sitemap is very simple with Search Console. Once you’re logged in, go to Sitemaps from the options on the left panel. Now enter the sitemap and hit Submit.
And that’s it, you just submitted your sitemap to Google. It will now know where to look for your content and the index them.
How to Submit a Sitemap to Bing?
Submitting your WordPress site’s sitemap to Bing is also straightforward. Use the Bing Webmaster Tool to add a site and its sitemap and you’re all done.
To do that, log in to the webmaster tool. Then from your dashboard, enter the URL of your website under My Sites and click Add.
It will then take you to a new window where you can enter your sitemap address, other personal details, and click Save.
Once you hit save, your sitemap will be stored in Bing.
What Can You Do with a Sitemap?
After submitting your XML sitemap, you can now check the performance of your site and fix different bugs.
You can check the crawl rate of your site, debug errors, and see which pages the search engine excludes from indexing.
For instance, if you notice a high number of pages not indexed by a search engine, then you can check if your SEO plugin is blocking them. At times, duplicate or low-quality pages can also interfere with your crawl rate.
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.