What is an XML Sitemap and How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress
Many of you who have recently started a website may not be familiar with the XML sitemap. An XML sitemap is very useful for any website. If you have a business website or even a blog, you must create an XML sitemap. In this article, we will help you understand what an XML sitemap is and why it is so important. Also, we will learn how to create a sitemap in WordPress.
What is an XML Sitemap?
Before we can start learning how to create a sitemap in WordPress, it is better to understand what an XML sitemap is.
What is an XML sitemap? This is one of the most common questions asked by users who have recently started a website or blog. And it is a very usual thing if they are not familiar with it. Google and other search engines need a list of all your web content in a machine-readable format, and an XML (extensible markup language) sitemap does exactly that. It is basically a file that contains a list of your website’s URLs. With the help of an XML file, search engines discover your website, navigate through it, and index your web content. So overall, it works as a roadmap to tell search engines what content is available on your website and how to reach it.
Although the sitemap is available on a website just like any other webpage, instead of HTML format, it is published in an XML format. Besides, an XML sitemap is created for search engines, not for site visitors.
Why is XML Sitemap Important?
Having an XML sitemap on your website or blog is extremely important because this is the only way to tell search engines about all the web pages available on your site. Besides, it also tells search engines about the important links on your website and how frequently you update your website. So, an XML sitemap is very important from SEO’s perspective.
Although your sitemap does not boost your search engine ranking, it helps search engines crawl your website in a better way. As a result, they find more content on your website and show that content in their search results. This will increase your search traffic and improve your website’s SEO. Even if some of your web pages are not indexed, even then search engines can come to know about those pages using your website’s XML sitemap.
By just adding a sitemap does not affect your site’s search ranking. How your website will perform on the search engines depends on various factors. Read – How to Improve Google Search Ranking of Your Website.
How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
Now it’s time to learn how to create a sitemap in WordPress. Many of you might not be aware of the methods for creating an XML sitemap for a WordPress site. There are mainly two ways to generate an XML file for your site: either by using an online XML generator or by using a WordPress plugin. But before using any of them, you should try an easy method, the easiest one. And this is perhaps the best method to create an XML sitemap in WordPress. If you are using WordPress 5.5 and any later version, you can easily create a sitemap without using any online XML generator or any WordPress plugin.
All you need to is just add wp-sitemap.xml at the end of your domain name, for e.g. yourdomainname.com/wp-sitemap.xml. And when you hit enter, you will see the default XML sitemap for your WordPress website. An example is shown below –
The above is the simplest way to create a sitemap for your WordPress site. However, it does not seem to be flexible because you cannot control what to add or what to remove from your sitemap. Therefore, you should consider trying any of the below two methods:
Use Online XML Generator Tool
This seems to be easy and effortless because you do not need to download and install any WordPress plugin. There are many XML generator tools available online. You can use any of them. Simply search “XML generator tool” on Google, and you will get plenty of options in the search result.
For example, you can use the one that shows up on the top of the search results. It is XML Sitemaps Generators that will help you create your Google sitemap online. Click it, and the home screen of this online XML generator tool will open. Now enter your website, and click Start.
The tool will start crawling your website. It may take some time, depending upon the number of pages your website has. Do not cancel the process in between. Wait for it to be completed.
Within a few minutes, the process will be successfully completed. Click View Sitemap Details.
On this page, you can check your sitemap details and its preview. A download button is also there clicking which you can download your XML sitemap on your computer.
If you have a small website that has up to 500 pages, the free version is highly suitable for you. You might also consider using its pro version if you have a really big website that has up to 1,500,000 pages.
There are many other XML generator tools available online that you may consider using. Refer to this article for some useful information – 10 of the Best XML Sitemap Generator Tools.
Use WordPress Plugin
If you do not want to use any online XML generator tool, you should take the help of a WordPress plugin. Most of the WordPress SEO plugins support sitemap creation, and the best of them are Yoast SEO and All in One SEO. You can use any of them. Both these plugins are highly capable to create a sitemap for your WordPress site without requiring any prior knowledge. Refer to the below articles for some useful information –
Hopefully, this article helped you understand what a sitemap is and why it is so useful. If you have not created a sitemap for your WordPress site yet, you should create it now. We have discussed the methods in this article that will help you create a sitemap with ease. After creating the sitemap, do not forget to upload it to the domain root folder of your website. And then, add your sitemap URL to Google Search Console.