You have started a blog and create a number of beautiful posts on your blog but the article is only valuable if the readers and the search engine are able to find it.
Sitemaps help you accomplish that by essentially giving humans and search engines a “map” of all the content on your “site”. That makes them an important tool for both search engine optimization and usability.
In this post, I’ll discuss two types of sitemaps – XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps. I’ll tell you what each type of sitemap is and its benefits. Then, I’ll show you how to create both XML and HTML sitemaps in WordPress.
What is a WordPress XML Sitemap?
A WordPress XML sitemap tells search engines about all the content on your site. Though the XML sitemap file is publicly accessible.
Essentially, it’s just a list of the URLs to all the content on your site, along with some other information, like when a piece of content was last modified, and maybe what priority you want Google to place on each page.
In addition to having an XML sitemap for your WordPress posts and pages, you can also create separate sitemaps for your images and videos.
Benefits of an XML Sitemap:
Site map XML is useful for your site’s SEO.
At a basic level, it allows Google and other search engines to inform all the content on your site. While an XML map will not force Google to include all your content in the search results, it makes sure that Google is at least aware of all your content, which helps to improve the possibility of Google to index your content.
Additionally, the XML subsystem also serves as it allows you to communicate additional information to Google as:
- How often you change a page – this helps Google crawl frequently-updated content more often.
- When the page was last updated – same idea!
- Alternative language versions of a page – this is helpful for multilingual sites.
XML sitemaps can also help you communicate information on multimedia content. For example, a video map allows you to give Google information about each video, including its:
- Running time
- Age appropriateness
The benefits of an XML sitemap are that it:
- Makes search engines aware of all your content
- Lets you share additional information about your content to optimize how search engines treat your content
Finally, according to Google, “most often, your site will benefit from having a Sitemap, and you will never be punished for having one.”
What is an HTML Sitemap?
Unlike the XML map map, an HTML map is more about helping your human visitors find content on your site (although it also has some advantages for SEO).
While the XML sitemaps were just a collection of code, an HTML map website is an effective page on your website designed for people to navigate. The HTML map includes links to all your content (or maybe only to your most important content, if your blog has thousands of posts).
Benefits of an HTML Sitemap:
For people, the great advantage of an HTML map is that it makes it easier for them to navigate your website.
But there are also some SEO benefits of HTML map. Basically, since HTML map is only a set of internal links, it helps you:
Demonstrate connectivity around your site
Give Google viewers another way to find all your content
Lastly this last point, Google recommends creating an HTML site in its Webmasters. Specifically, they tell you “to provide a page with a human-readable list of links to your pages”.
HTML Sitemap vs XML Sitemap in WordPress?
So when it comes to an HTML map against the XML map, which one of them should use?
You do not need to select only one.
Instead, best practice is to use an HTML theme map an XML map. As you have learned above, each has a little other use, and Google really recommends you to offer both the HTML footer and XML map.
How To Create a Sitemap in WordPress?
Now that you know what sitemaps are and what benefits they offer, let’s cover how to create a sitemap in WordPress and make sure search engines can access it.
I’ll cover creating both XML and HTMLsitemaps.
Create XML Sitemap in WordPress:
Pretty much all of the major WordPress SEO plugins include XML sitemap functionality by default, so it’s unlikely that you’ll need to manually create an XML sitemap for your WordPress site.
For example, all of the following SEO plugins include built-in XML sitemap functionality:
If you aren’t using one of these plugins, you can also find other WordPress sitemap plugins.
How to Inform Search Engines About Your Sitemap:
Once you create an XML sitemap with one of those plugins, you’ll need to tell search engines where they can find it.
You’ll do this from each search engine’s “webmaster tools” feature. For example:
Create HTML Sitemap in WordPress:
Depending on the size of your WordPress site, you can create an HTML sitemap in WordPress either manually or with a plugin.
If your site is small – for example, a brochure site – you can just create a regular page and manually add links to all your content.
However, as your site grows, it might no longer be feasible to manually manage your HTML sitemap.
In that case, you can use a free plugin called Simple Sitemap.
- Once you install and activate the plugin, create a new WordPress page and add the
[simple-sitemap]shortcode where you want your HTML sitemap to appear:
- By default, the shortcode will display all of your pages (not your blog posts). However, you can modify its functionality using the following parameters:
- types – the post types you want to include in the sitemap. For example, “post”, “page”, or any custom post types that you’re using.
- show_label – where or not to show the heading label.
- links – show the sitemap as links or just text.
- page_depth – the hierarchy of child pages.
- order and orderby – what to order pages by.
- exclude – exclude specific content (by post ID).
For example, if you want to create separate sitemaps for your posts and pages, you could use two separate shortcodes like this:
[simple-sitemap types="page"]– a list of all your WordPress pages
[simple-sitemap types="post"]– a list of all your WordPress blog posts
Sitemaps are an important part of WordPress SEO.
No matter what your site is about, you should create sitemaps to help humans and search engines find your content. Create an XML sitemap with a plugin like Yoast SEO and submit it to search engines.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Do you need to manually update the sitemap?
No! Your SEO plugin will automatically add any new content to your XML sitemap, and the Simple Sitemap plugin will automatically add new content to your HTML sitemap.
Why isn’t Google indexing all the content in my sitemap?
Your sitemaps help Google find all your content, but they don’t guarantee that Google will index your content. The ultimate decision always rests with Google.
Is there a limit on how many pages you can include in an XML sitemap?
Yes and no. A single XML sitemap file is limited to 50,000 URLs. However, if you need to include more than 50,000 URLs, you can simply create multiple XML sitemap files and collect them together in an XML index file.
If you have any query don’t forget to drop a comment below.
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