A site map is a list of all the pages on our website. Although sitemaps do not help us to improve our search engine rankings, it surely allows search engines to better index our website. If our website is better crawled and indexed by search engines then we have an added advantage over our competitors.
Let us say we have about 500 pages on our website. Google or Bing bots will have difficulty in crawling and indexing all these pages unless we have links to all these 500 pages in our site. For a well-maintained site with a structured internal linking site maps may not offer a great advantage from an SEO point. But it is always recommended to keep site maps for WordPress sites for ease of crawling and faster indexing. We could generate a site map for our WordPress website in less than 5 minutes
HTML vs XML site maps.
HTML site maps used in websites are basically for the need of human visitors. It is like a visual road map to the entire website. It will list the pages of the website in a structured manner as shown below.
However today we have options to create XML sitemaps for search engines.XML site map is a list of all pages in our site in an XML format. The search engines easily recognize this format and hence is highly recommended. There are many online site map generator tools available that could crawl our website and generate XML site maps easily. But for WordPress sites, we do not have to depend on these online tools as several free WordPress plugins can create XML site maps. In this blog, we will see two different plugins that can be easily used to generate XML site maps.
Plugin1: Yoast SEO
Yoast plugin does not require any introduction among WordPress users. This is the most popular SEO plugin with more than 5 million active installations. If you are using this plugin for your blog SEO then there is no need to install any other XML site map generator plugin. Let us see how we can generate XML site maps in a WordPress site using the Yoast Plugin.
The latest version of Yoast plugin has completely different configuration settings for sitemap than its previous versions. The below instructions are for the latest version of Yoast plugin. Once this plugin is installed we can go to the plugin’s general settings from the admin side panel. In this section under the features tab, we have XML sitemap option. Here we can enable XML sitemap and click the save changes button at the bottom.
By default, this plugin creates a sitemap for posts, pages, post category, and post tags. Here at blogtriangle, I do not include post category and post tags in XML site maps. We can go to the category section under taxonomies in search appearance options of the plugin and set the option to show categories in search results as No.
Then we have to save the changes by clicking the save changes button. This will exclude post category from the XML site map. Similarly to exclude post tag from the site map, go to tags section under taxonomies in search appearance options of the plugin and do the same.
The XML sitemap generated by Yoast is as shown below
You can see blogtriangle’s site map generated by Yoast at this URL.
Plugin2: Google XML Sitemaps
If your site does not use Yoast plugin for SEO then it is unnecessary to just download and use it for XML site maps alone. Google XML Sitemaps is another popular sitemap generator plugin with more than 2 million installations. This plugin is specifically created for generating XML site maps. Once Google XML Sitemaps plugin is installed and activated, we can see the plugin options under XML Sitemap tab in settings.
The sitemap URL will be displayed at the top section as shown below.
In the settings page under Sitemap content section, we can choose which all content needs to be included in the sitemap. It is better to include homepage, posts and static pages for sitemaps.
There are several customizable options available under settings. But the default options are suitable for most of the sites. Hence there is no need to change any of these default settings. The site map generated by this plugin will be as shown below.
Thus we have successfully generated XML site maps for our WordPress blog using two different plugins. This sitemap URL can then be submitted to Google and Bing Webmaster portal for faster indexing of our content.