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What is an XML Sitemap? How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?

Last Updated on November 30, 2021 by Oluwatuyi

Do you want to Create a Sitemap in WordPress?

An XML sitemap helps search engines easily navigate through your website content. It gives them a list of all your content in a machine-readable format.

So we will explain what is an XML sitemap, and how to easily create a sitemap in WordPress.

What is an XML Sitemap?

An XML sitemap is a file that lists a website’s important pages, making sure Google can find and crawl them all. It also helps search engines understand your website structure. You want Google to crawl every essential page of your website.

While some websites still have HTML sitemaps today, the overall usage of sitemaps have evolved.

Today sitemaps are published in an XML format instead of HTML, and their target audience is search engines and not people.

Basically, an XML sitemap is a way for website owners to tell search engines about all the pages that exist on their website.

It also tells search engines which links on your website are more important than others, and how frequently you update your website.

While XML sitemaps will not boost your search engine rankings, they allow search engines to better crawl your website. This means they can find more content and start showing it in search results thus resulting in more search traffic, and improved SEO rankings.

Reasons Why you need an XML Sitemap

Sitemaps are extremely important from a search engine optimization (SEO) point of view.

Simply adding a sitemap does not affect search rankings. However, if there is a page on your site that is not indexed, then sitemap provides you a way to let search engines know about that page.

Sitemaps are extremely useful for when you first start a blog or create a new website because most new websites don’t have any backlinks. This makes it harder for search engines to discover all of their content.

This is why search engines like Google and Bing allow new website owners to submit a sitemap in their webmaster tools. This allows their search engine bots to easily discover and index your content (more on this later).

Sitemaps are equally as important for established popular websites as well. They allow you to highlight which part of your websites are more important, which parts are more frequently updated, etc, so search engines can visit and index your content accordingly.

In addition to pointing Google to all your content, XML sitemaps can also optimize crawling of your website by a search engine bot. XML sitemaps should include the last modified date. This date will immediately tell a search engine which pages should be crawled and which haven’t changed since the last crawl and can be excluded from this crawl. This is a huge benefit of using XML sitemaps.

How to create a Sitemap in WordPress?

There are different ways to create a sitemap for your WordPress site which you can choose one that works best for you.

Creating an XML Sitemap in WordPress using RankMath SEO

The easiest way to create an XML sitemap in WordPress is by using the Rank Math SEO plugin for WordPress.

It is the best WordPress SEO plugin on the market offering you a comprehensive set of tools to optimize your blog posts for SEO.

First, you need to install and activate the RankMath SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Note: Sitemap feature is also available in RankMath Free version. However to get advanced news sitemap and video sitemaps, you’ll need the Pro version.

Upon activation, go to the RankMath » Sitemaps page to review sitemap settings.

xml sitemap

By default, RankMath SEO will enable the Sitemap feature for you and replace the basic WordPress sitemaps.

You can view your sitemap by adding ‘sitemap.xml’ to the URL such as www.example.com/sitemap.xml.

xml 1

Rankmath SEO automatically includes all your WordPress content in XML sitemaps. However, what if you have stand-alone pages like a contact form, a landing page, or Shopify store pages that are not part of WordPress?

Well, RankMath is the only plugin that lets you add external pages in your WordPress sitemap.

Overall, Rankmath is one of the best WordPress plugin because it gives you all the flexibility and powerful features at a very affordable price.

How to Create an XML Sitemap in WordPress without a Plugin

This method is very basic and limited in terms of features.

Until Feb 2021, WordPress didn’t have built-in sitemaps. However in WordPress 5.7, they released a basic XML sitemap feature.

This allows you to automatically create an XML sitemap in WordPress without using a plugin. You can simply add wp-sitemap.xml at the end of your domain name, and WordPress will show you the default XML sitemap.

This XML sitemap feature was added to WordPress to make sure that any new WordPress website does not miss out on the SEO benefits of an XML sitemap.

However, it is not very flexible, and you cannot easily control what to add or remove from your XML sitemaps.

Luckily, almost all top WordPress SEO plugins come with their own sitemap functionality. These sitemaps are better, and you can control which content to remove or exclude from your WordPress XML sitemaps.

How to Submit Your XML Sitemap to Search Engines

There is no other magic in submitting your sitemap XML to other search console, follow the same guide you followed on google search console.

  • Create an account on order search console
  • Verify by coping the code given using Header and footer plugin
  • Then submit
  • Copy your sitemap XML file and submit on the search console account created

Normally, Google may decide to skip duplicate content, pages with no content or very little content, and pages excluded by your website’s robots.txt file or meta tags.

However, if you have an unusually high number of excluded pages, then you may want to check your SEO plugin settings to make sure that you are not blocking any content.

For more details, see our complete Google Search Console guide for beginners.

We hope this article helped answer all your questions about XML sitemaps and how to create an XML sitemap for your WordPress site. You may also want to see our guide on how to quickly increase your website traffic with step by step tips, and our comparison of the best keyword research tools to write better content.

If you have any issue on this, you can use our comment session or join our delegate on Facebook to solve any issues related to WordPress and subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials.

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