Of course, you want your website’s content to be easily found through search engines. After all, this is a great way to bring organic traffic to your site. However, if you aren’t using XML sitemaps, you’re missing out on an effective Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tool.
XML sitemaps are used by search engine bots to more effectively ‘crawl’ your site’s content. By creating one for your website, you can potentially make your content more visible on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
In this post, we’ll discuss what XML sitemaps are and why you may need one for your WordPress website. We’ll then show you a few ways to generate your own sitemaps, as well as alert Google to its existence. Let’s get started!
What is an XML Sitemap?
In short, an XML sitemap is an index of your website’s posts and pages. It’s used by search engine crawlers – robots that index and add your website to SERPs.
When robots crawl your site without a sitemap, they must use your site’s internal links to navigate it. A sitemap simplifies the process by providing the crawlers with a detailed map of your entire site – including your pages, posts, and hierarchy.
Do You Need an XML Sitemap for a WordPress Website?
If your website’s content is already visible on SERPs, do you really need an XML sitemap? If you want your WordPress website to be thoroughly and frequently indexed by search engine crawlers, the answer is “Yes!”.
The more successfully a search engine bot can crawl your website, the better. This enables updated content to rank on SERPs, which is beneficial for driving targeted traffic.
How Can You Find a Sitemap in WordPress?
Finding a sitemap is simple, and all it takes is the addition of a specific slug to the end of your (or another website’s) URL. For example, most sitemaps use sitemap.xml/. As such, you can enter www.example.com/sitemap.xml into the address bar and be redirected to a sitemap:
If this doesn’t work, other popular slugs include page-sitemap.xml and sitemap_index.xml. Of course, you can also do the same for your own website to determine if you currently have an active sitemap.
How to Create an XML Sitemap for WordPress
There are two different kinds of XML sitemaps you can create on WordPress – static and dynamic. The generation techniques differ for each, so let’s take a closer look.
How to Generate a Dynamic Sitemap
A dynamic sitemap is used by most websites. It’s recommended for anyone who doesn’t have the time or the knowledge to maintain one manually, and it essentially updates based on your site’s structure automatically.
In fact, it is possible to generate a dynamic sitemap manually, but this takes quite a bit of XML knowledge. If you aren’t familiar with XML, your next best option is to use a WordPress plugin. There are quite a few options in the WordPress Plugin Directory, but we recommend Yoast SEO.
How to Create a Sitemap for WordPress Using Yoast
To generate your own sitemap, download and install the plugin. Next, navigate to the WordPress dashboard, and click SEO > General from the left-hand menu. From here, select the Features tab and scroll to XML Sitemaps. Toggle the bar to On and click Save Changes: