A Beginner’s Guide to XML Sitemaps in WordPress

Sitemaps started in the early 2000s with government sites. They would use this specific page as an index of all the pages on their website. Today, sitemaps are used in a similar fashion, but they are more for the search engines than actual site visitors.

What is an XML Sitemap?

The sitemap for your WordPress website is a list of all the pages and posts found on your actual website. Every time you add a new page or post to your website, the sitemap will be updated. This helps Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines to find your content.

A sitemap won’t boost your actual search rankings. However, it will make it easier for the search engine robots to crawl your website.

Do You Really Need a WordPress XML Sitemap?

If you plan to use search engine optimization (SEO) at all, you need a sitemap. This won’t make your ranking higher, but it will allow your content to become indexed faster.

Sitemaps provide a very useful tool for both blogs and websites. Many new blog posts don’t get backlinks very quickly and this can make it harder for search engines to find them. However, when you use a sitemap, your new posts and pages are easier for the search engines to find.

The main reason for using a sitemap is the interaction between your website and the search engines. It will help identify which parts of your website are updated most often. This allows the search engines to establish a crawling pattern and find your new content quicker.

Creating Your WordPress Sitemap

Creating a sitemap for your WordPress website/blog is very easy. You can use a few different plugins to create your sitemap, but the best two are the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin and the Google XML Sitemap plugin.

If you already use WordPress SEO by Yoast for SEO reasons, setting up your sitemap is very easy. However, if you don’t use Yoast and don’t want to use it, the Google XML Sitemap plugin will work just fine.

Setting Up WordPress SEO by Yoast for Your Sitemap

Once you’ve installed the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and it has been activated, you can set up your XML Sitemap. Go to SEO >> XML Sitemap in your WordPress Dashboard.

Just click the checkbox to enable the XML Sitemap functionality. This will create your sitemap for your WordPress website.

WordPress SEO by Yoast Sitemap

You can also set the sitemap to ping Yahoo! and Ask.com whenever you add new content. It will automatically ping Google and Bing.

Ping Yahoo and Ask

Along with setting up the sitemap and figuring out which search engines to ping, you can adjust other settings from this section, as well. You will also want to add the link to your sitemap in your footer. This makes it very easy for the search engines to find it.

Setting up the Google XML Sitemap Plugin for WordPress

Setting up the Google XML Sitemap plugin for WordPress is very easy. Simply go to Settings >> XML-Sitemap. Within this area, you will see all the necessary settings for your new sitemap. It will have been generated without any action on your part. You will also see a link to your sitemap here.

Google XML Sitemap

Just make the adjustments you need to make to the settings and you’re all set.

Do You Need to Tell the Search Engines About your Sitemap?

You don’t really have to tell the search engines about your sitemap, but it’s a good idea. They will find it, eventually, but you can speed up the process. This is done in the Google Webmaster Tools area for Google. Just log into your account and click the “Add a Site” button. Just enter the URL of your website.

On the next screen, you will be given options to verify the ownership of your website. You can simply copy the code and enter it on your homepage or you can use one of the other methods.

Once you’ve verified your website, you can enter your sitemap in the “Add/Test Sitemap” areas of Google Webmaster Tools. Just enter the URL for your sitemap and click “Submit Sitemap.”

It will take a few days for Google to crawl your sitemap, but you will never have to do this again. After you’ve submitted your sitemap to Google, you can login and see the progress from your sites.

Now you know how to create an XML Sitemap for your WordPress blog. This will help you notify the search engines of new content and help get your posts and pages indexed faster.

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