What is a Sitemap & How To Create It in WordPress

Sitemap explained

For those who have never heard about sitemaps, let us start by defining it. As the word depicts, a sitemap is a map created in your website to show all your web content.

Those who work with search engine optimization and the newbies are likely to benefit a lot from sitemaps. Nevertheless, when you don’t have a backlink, it can be harder for search engines to discover your content.

You will be happy to learn that Google and Bing allow you to submit a sitemap in their webmaster tools, and that’s how your SEO bots discover your content. In a sitemap, you can create a file hosted among the other data in your account. Thus, it informs the search engines of the number of pages on your website.

There are many more benefits to creating sitemaps. Other than newbies, it can also help those with a secure website as well. It lets you highlight the important part of your website and the frequently visited site. In the same process, the search engine can index your content, which enhances the visibility of your website in SEO rankings.

With that essential understanding of the sitemap, we will look at steps that we need to create a sitemap in WordPress.

WordPress Sitemaps XML and HTML

There are six different types of sitemaps. The two most seen are HTML and XML.

The difference between the two is; in HTML- the sitemap is created explicitly for the user. While an XML– the sitemap is intended for a website and enables the SEO to crawl the site.

Logically, an HTML sitemap allows your website visitors to navigate your web content easily. Like they can locate a topic you are unable to find by searching the sites through the search menu.

How to Create an HTML Sitemap 

Step 1. First, you need to install the plugin on your WordPress site

Step 2. Make a “Site map page.”

Step 3. Go over “settings” and click “SEO HTML sitemap,” from WordPress admin screen

Step4. Go to settings

Step 5 In your new HTML Sitemap, add a link to your website’s footer

Now you are already set with a brand-new HTML sitemap.

Next, we will look up to an XML sitemaps plugin.

An Extensible Mark-up Language sitemap (XML) is a form of language that consists of tags that define pages that should be indexed by the search engines — designed for search engines and not the users. They are available to see as a filemap.xml on the site.

In case you already have a running website on WordPress, like 50% of all other sites in the world, it will be easy to create an XML sitemap. You can install the Yoast Plugin, and it will do the work for you.

How To Create an XML Sitemap Using Yoast SEO.

Creating a sitemap using an XML is the easiest way possible.

  1. Install the Yoast plugin by navigating to plugins>Add new and search for “Yoast SEO.”
  2. After activating, click SEO> General page and switch to the ‘features’ tab, then scroll down to the ‘XML Sitemap’ option and turn it on.
  3. Now you can Navigate the XML Sitemaps and submit your sitemap. Google takes a few days to validate your sitemap, and if they find errors, they alert you immediately. If it shows a “success” message, then you can start to crawl in your pages.
  4. It is good to note that, in case you prefer to use Google XML Sitemaps plugins, you must disable the XML sitemap button for you to switch to Yoast. Working with both plugins may cause issues while setting them up.

Steps to Create an XML Sitemap in WordPress using Google XML Sitemaps Plugins

For those who don’t intend to create a sitemap in WordPress using Yoast plugins, they can use the Google XML.

  1. Install and activate the Google XML Sitemaps plugins.
  2. After activation, the plugins automatically generate an XML Sitemap for your website.
  3. Review plugin settings, go to Settings>XML-Sitemap page and configure plugins.
  4. Don’t forget to click on the ‘Update Options button to save your changes.

Submit Your XML Sitemap to Google: Whether you have just created a new website, or had an existing one, adding your sitemap to Google Search Console tool helps it discover your content quickly. The Google tool is free and helps website owners to monitor and maintain their site’s presence in Google search results.

  • For you to access the Google Search Console, you need to visit the Google Search Console website and sign up. Then you are prompted to select a property type; It means a domain or a URL prefix. The easiest one to set up is a URL prefix, which is the most recommended.
  • Now, verify the ownership of the website. You will find multiple methods to do that. The recommended one is the HTML tag method. It’s a copy and paste method, whereby you copy the code on the screen and go to the admin page of your WordPress website to paste it.
  • After Installing, activate the Insert Headers and Footers plugin.
  • After activation, visit Settings> Insert Headers and Footers page and add the code that you had copied earlier in the Scripts in the Header box.
  • The final step is to click on the Save button to store your changes. After these, you can switch back to the Google Search Console tab and click on verify.

Google then checks for the verification code on your site and adds it to your Google console account.

By now, the verification should be successful. But just in case there was an error, clear your cache and try again.

XML Sitemaps are essential for SEO because they make it easier for Google to find your site’s pages.

5 Ways to Create a Sitemap in WordPress:

1. Review the Structure of Your Pages

Be aware of the content of your website and the entire structuring. From the sitemap template, figure out how your displayed pages should look like on the table.

Find out where your homepage links to since it starts from there. You should be comfortable with the menu options on your site. Keep the depth of your website in mind because not all pages are created equally in SEO.

Aim for a sitemap that is shallow, the most recommended by Search Engine Journal. Meaning it should take three clicks only to navigate to any page on your website, absolutely helpful for an SEO purpose.

In essence, you create a hierarchy of pages with ranks, and how you want them to be indexed. Put them in tiers, and content priority to follow a logical hierarchy.

Use the visual sitemap templates to determine the organization of your pages.

2. URLs Coding

Assuming you have identified and matched your site structure, this is where you start to code the crucial URLs.

The process continues by formatting each URL with XML tags. Find a text editor where you can create an XML file. A good option for you to consider is a sublime text. Then you can add the corresponding code for each URL’s location, last changed, frequency changed, the priority of page, and so on.

When it comes to adding codes, text editor makes your life easier, although you need to be sharp. The code sample for each will look like this;

3. Validate the Code

Your sitemaps need to function correctly; you can’t afford to have any mistakes in the coding, though the human is to error. Nevertheless, some tools help you validate your code to ensure the syntax is correct. Thanks to mobile development applications, there’s a software that can help you and solve the solution. Run a Google search for sitemap validation like the XML Sitemap validator tool.

4. Adding your Sitemap to the Root and Robots.txt

Find out the root map’s location and then add the sitemap file to this folder. This action adds the page to your site. It is not problematic because most websites have this tab. Besides, it is the same way you will add a robots.txt file, which you will find in the root folder.

Generally, this gives instructions for any crawler indexing your site. The fact that Apple is using this can be proof that it works great, and you may want to consider trying it.

5. Submitting your Sitemap

-Having created and added your site files, it gives you time to send them to the search engine. If you have not set up a Google Search Console, you need to do so because it’s a straightforward procedure. 

-You will then navigate to Crawl>Sitemaps. Then click on Add/Test Sitemaps on the top right corner of the screen. You will have a chance to test your sitemap for any errors before continuing and fix errors found. After thorough checking and confirming it to be error-free, then click submit. You are now through with your work, and Google takes over from there.

Conclusion

You don’t have to find it daunting on how to create a sitemap in WordPress. Almost every webmaster can create an XML and HTML- sitemaps. By following the above easy steps, you can take your SEO strategy to the next level. Allow search engines to locate your site more efficiently and find those URLs that may be isolated.

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