As the name suggests, a sitemap is like a sitemap to help navigate the pages on your website. While sitemaps were originally designed to help users navigate all the content available on a website, they have evolved a lot from the days, at the beginning they were just HTML bulleted lists. Now, sitemaps are published in XML, and are designed to target search engines rather than people.
Why Should You Have a Sitemap?
Why you are required to create an xml sitemap is because an XML sitemap is a means of letting search engines know about all the pages on your website – and for showing the links on your site which are the most important. Although not specifically designed to help improve SEO Search engine ranking, XML sitemap will allow search engines to better crawl your site.
This is important because it makes sure all the pages on your website are indexed – something that is especially important for new websites and blogs that haven’t built up a lot of backlinks.
How to Create an XML Sitemap in WordPress
There are several plugins available to help you build an XML sitemap for your WordPress website or blog. and I recommend you to use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. However if you use an SEO plugin like All in One SEO actually also has its own sitemaps feature. But if you still want to use this plugin then please follow the guide below.
However, for users who optimize SEO with Yoast SEO, you don’t need to use this plugin because there will be a notification that requires you to remove the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.
These plugins are specially designed for generating XML sitemaps, Google XML Sitemaps supports all types of generated WordPress pages, as well as custom URLs. This plugin has been downloaded more than 14 million times, and has an average user rating of 4.7 / 5.
After you have finished creating sitemap.xml, you can preview your xml sitemap by clicking on the URL as I marked in red in the image above. And if it’s successful, please enter your xml sitemap into google webmaster tools, read my previous article:
After Google has captured your sitemap, you will be able to view statistics about your sitemap via Google Webmaster Tools, including the number of links found, and how many of those links were indexed.
Google XML Sitemaps Settings Information:
This plugin comes with default settings, but some people may want to change certain settings. In this section, I will explain each of the options available in the Google XML Sitemaps plugin settings.
Notify Google about updates of your Blog : This option will allow your site to ping Google to notify that there is new content or updated content on your site, please tick this option.
Notify Bing (formerly MSN Live Search) about updates of your Blog : This option does the same as above, where it will send a ping to Bing notifying them of new or updated content on your site, please tick this option.
Add sitemap URL to the virtual robots.txt file : This option will edit your robots.txt file, pointing each search engine to your XML sitemap. I recommend enabling this option to ensure that search engines can find your XML sitemap.
Try to increase the memory limit to : This section will increase your memory limit when creating new sitemaps. This option can sometimes be helpful if you receive an error that the PHP script is using too much memory.
Try to increase the execution time limit to : This section is similar to the previous where you will be able to increase the maximum PHP script execution time.
Include a XSLT Stylesheet : This field will allow you to define a custom XSLT stylesheet for your XML file. Most will use the defaults, but if you have some reason to use a custom layout you can enter the full path to this .xls file.
Include XML Sitemap in HTML Format : This option allows you to enter your Sitemap in HTML format. Enable this option.
In this section, you can add new pages for your XML sitemap that are not included in your WordPress sitemap. For example, if you have a secondary shopping cart that is not included in this WordPress installation, you can add various URLs here to ensure that they are included in your sitemap as well.
In this section, there are 3 different options that you may use to automatically adjust post and page priority. Priority allows you to tell Google and other search engines the most important pages on your site with a value ranging from 0.0-1.0. By default, post priority is set to 0.5.
- Do not use automatic priority calculation : This option disables the ability for post priority to be calculated automatically. All posts will have a priority of 0.5 unless specifically defined in the Priority section at the bottom of the setting.
- Commentar Count : This option will set the priority of posts in your XML sitemap based on the number of comments on a particular post or page. (I use this default option)
- Comment Average : This option will set the priority based on the average number of comments. For example, if the average number of comments on your posts is 3, posts with 1 comment will be given below average priority, while one post with 10 will be given higher priority.
This section specifies what types of content you want to include in your XML sitemap. Here, you can include content types in your XML sitemap to ensure that you get proper exposure from search engines. I personally only choose 4 options, namely: Include homepage, posts, pages, and include last modifications times. But you can choose what you want.
This section can be used to exclude certain categories and pages from being indexed in your XML sitemap. Of course, search engines may still index that content, but not include it from your XML sitemap. For this section I leave it as the default.
In this section, you will be able to determine how often certain content is updated so that search engines know how often to crawl your data. Of course, they are still in control of how often they check for new information, but this setting appropriately will give them good advice of how often to check for changes. In this section I have left the default setting, which is selecting “Always” for all options.
In this section, you will be able to manually change the priority of each of your sections of your site. Setting a higher priority will allow content to be suggested to search engines that it is more important. You can follow the settings that I have as shown in the image above.
Above is a complete explanation of using Google XML Sitemaps on WordPress, please follow the guidelines above and hopefully every page of your website is indexed by search engines like Google and Bing. Hope it is useful. 🙂