How To create a XML Sitemap in WordPress Website
Before we learn how to create an XML sitemap lets talk about what is Sitemap. Since I tried to make this website beginner friendly we will start with the basic so let's get started.
What is XML Sitemap?
A sitemap is an XML file which informs search engine about the pages and the URLs of a website that are available for crawling. It also tells the search engine which part or link of your website is more important and how often you update it.
This allows search engine web crawlers like Googlebot to crawl and read the file of your website more intelligently.
But I would like to clear things regarding indexing of pages. The search engine like Google will not index your page until :
1. They found and crawl them.
2. They consider them good enough to be worth indexing.
3. The sitemap does not boost search ranking of a website it just improves the crawling and indexing of your website.
Having said that, by submitting an XML sitemap to search engine, you are giving clue that the pages in the XML sitemap are of a good quality landing page.
A Sitemap of a website looks similar to the below screenshot.
Do I need a Sitemap?
From an SEO point of view, a sitemap is important. Particularly if your website meets one of the following criteria.
- If your site is new: Most of the new blog/ website don't get backlinks to their post, it becomes difficult for search engine to discover all the posts and pages of the website.
- If your site is really large: If your website is really large/ huge, its more likely search engine web crawls might overlook the newly updated or added pages of your website.
- If your site has a large archive: If your website has a large archive and are isolated or not well linked to each other, you can list them in a sitemap to ensure that Google does not overlook some of your pages.
However, using sitemap does not guarantee that all the items in your sitemap will be crawled and indexed.
How to create a Sitemap on WordPress website?
There are several ways to create an XML sitemap for WordPress website. But I will show you the easiest way.
At ElegantEspace, I have used Yoast SEO plugin to create our sitemap. Since, it allows us to optimize our website along with other features like social integration, meta descriptions and much more.
To get started first of all you need to install and activate Yoast Seo Plugin. Upon activation go to the dashboard of your WordPress admin panel click on SEO followed by XML sitemap and enable the functionality button. (As shown below)
Once you enable the functionality button, click on save changes. This way you can create your sitemap. To view your sitmap_index.xml files click on the XML Sitemap button on the same page which will be highlighted with blue text (for reference see the above screenshot).
How to tell Google about sitemap?
You can submit your sitemap to Google by using Google Webmaster tools. To do so, first of all, go to Google Webmaster Tools and add the URL of your website. Upon adding the URL you will be asked to verify the ownership of the website you were trying to add.
There are several methods to verify your website. Since we are using Yoast SEO plugin we will go with this method. To do that click on Alternate method followed by HTML tag. You will then see a code which looks similar to below line.
<meta name = "google-site-verification" content = " Verification key code * " />
Now copy the verification key code* part (the value inside the content = "*") then go to WordPress admin panel and click on SEO followed by webmaster tools and paste the copied key code next to Google search console (as shown in screenshot).
After this step go back to Google webmaster tools site verification screen and click on the verify button. Once the website is verified you will get a popup message "Congratulations you have successfully verified your site www.xyz.com".
Click on continue to see the dashboard of webmaster tools and follow the below steps.
- Click on Crawl.
- Go to sitemap option.
- Once you click on sitemap you will get an option of Add/ Test sitemap, click on that.
- Paste sitemap_index.xml
Once you successfully submit sitemap it will take few hours to crawl your website. After a while, it will start showing you the number of links it found, how many of them got indexed and stats of your website.
As your site gets older you will start seeing more and more data which will help you how well your site is performing and what else you can do to improves your site performance for the search engine.
I hope this article was able to clear your doubt regarding XML sitemap and helped you with installation steps.
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