Google (or other search engines) does not know what is your website all about. In order for search engines to know about the content of your website, you need to submit some information to search engines.
But how do we do that?
Sitemaps! Yes, with a sitemap search engine can discover the contents of your website and crawls accordingly.
Creating a sitemap is one of the many ways of optimizing a site for SEO. It helps visitors and search engine bots to know your website structure better.
Sitemaps offer a better user experience for visitors and accurate information in a structured way for search engine bots to crawl.
So, this article will be all about different types of sitemaps, how to use sitemaps for optimizing your website, and How To Create A Sitemap In WordPress.
What Is A WordPress Sitemap?
A Sitemap, as the name suggests is the complete link map of your site. This is a file that contains all the public URLs of your website. You can control the links that need to be included in a sitemap.
By default, WordPress does not create any sitemaps. You need to manually create it or use WordPress plugins to do that for you.
A sitemap is like a blueprint containing links to all your pages, posts, images, and other stuff you want to include. You will need to create different sitemaps for different types of content.
Why Sitemaps Are Important
Either a new site or an old site, Google ( Or other search engines) discover the content of your website by following internal links.
If you have a sitemap with all links to your website, you are basically making the job of Google easier, as Google can easily find the structure and links of your website and crawls them accordingly.
Websites with sitemaps get crawled quickly and easily compare to one that does not have a sitemap.
Here are the different scenarios where sitemaps are really important.
The structure and the hierarchy of your website in a visual sitemap help visitors to easily navigate through different pages. This improves the overall experience and visitor retention.
Search Engine Optimization
When Google finds it easy to crawl your website content, it may push you up in the search engine result pages. On the other hand, if visitors find it easy to navigate through using sitemaps, they will prefer to come back to your website. So you will be getting benefits from both ways.
Google hates if your website does not have a sitemap as it has to do a lot of work to crawl your website. By providing a sitemap, you are making Google happy. Thus Google ( Or other search engines) will crawl and index your website links faster.
Types Of Sitemaps
Usually, sitemaps are categorized into two types.
Both types play a significant role in optimizing a website in different ways. XML sitemaps are machine-readable sitemaps meant for search engines whereas HTML sitemaps are visual sitemaps meant for human visitors.
An XML sitemap is usually for the consumption of search engines. It contains URLs of all contents of your blog along with other information like when the content was created and when the content was modified, how many images are there in the content, etc.
XML (Extensible Markup Language) is machine-readable language useful for search engines to crawl your website content easily and quickly
Though XML sitemap is accessible to common visitors, it’s of no use to them. Search engine crawler detects XML sitemap and crawls all links available in the sitemap.
In WordPress, you can create sitemaps for different content like posts, pages, images, categories, etc. When there is a change in content, XML sitemap files also get updated for search engines to crawl the updated content.
Benefits Of XML Sitemap
The main benefit of XML sitemap is that it helps your website content to get crawled easily.
There is no guarantee that all links of the website will be crawled and indexed but at least Google will be aware of your website content.
One more benefit is that whenever your website content is updated, the same gets updated in the sitemaps and eventually gets crawled.
An XML sitemap is also useful to let Google or other search engine know about the media contents of your blog as WordPress creates a separate sitemap for all media contents like images and videos.
How To Create An XML Sitemap Using Rank Math
Creating an XML sitemap is very easy using Rank Math. You just need to follow the below instructions and you are good to go.
Enable Sitemap In RankMath Dashboard
First of all, you need to enable “Sitemap” from the Rank Math dashboard and then access the Rank Math settings.
Access Rank Math Settings
To access Rank Math Sitemap setting, you can click on RankMath -> Sitemap Setting
Configure General Settings
Once you click on the Sitemap Settings, you will be shown the below window. Under General, you can change the following settings.
Your sitemap URL will be shown at the top of the window. The same you need to copy and submit to search engines.
- Links Per Sitemap: Keep it default at 200
- Images In Sitemaps: Yes
- Include Featured Image: No ( Featured images do not add any value)
- Exclude Posts: Here you can enter the post IDs that you want to exclude
- Exclude Terms: Here you can exclude posts with any terms
- Ping Search Engines: Yes
Configure Other Individual Settings
You can go to the individual setting page for each item listed on the left side and change the settings accordingly. For example, the below image shows the setting page for “Posts“.
Here is the snippet of what RankMath XML sitemaps look like.
How To Submit XML Sitemaps To Google
Here are the processes that you can follow to submit a sitemap to Google.
- Login to Google Search Console
- Click on ” Sitemaps” on the left navigation bar
- Enter the sitemap URL
- Click Submit
Unlike XML sitemaps which are purely for search engines, HTML sitemaps are for general visitors. It helps them to navigate your website easily. It also gives an overview of your website content along with links so that they can access their preferred content.
Benefits Of HTML Sitemaps
Although HTML sitemaps do not have an impact on SEO or overall blog visibility, it adds value to your website. Visitors will be pleased to get all content links on one page instead of browsing all pages and categories.
How To Create An HTML Sitemap Using Rank Math?
Like an XML sitemap, creating an HTML sitemap using Rank Math is very easy. Here are the steps that you need to follow.
You need to enable Sitemap in the Rank Math dashboard and access the RankMath settings. The process is explained before in Step-1 and Step-2.
To access the HTML Sitemap under RankMath general settings, you need to click on the option shown below.
You need to “Check” on “HTML Sitemap” to enable the feature.
You can set the below option under the RankMath HTML Sitemap settings page.
- Display Format: You can show an HTML sitemap anywhere using the short code or choose a page to display.
- Sort By: You can sort by Published Date, Modified Date, Alphabetical, or using Post IDs
- Show Date: If you want to show the dates next to the post, check the option here.
- Item Title: You can either choose the item title or the SEO title in the HTML sitemap.
Here is a snippet of what the RiansTech HTML sitemap looks like with the above settings.
Here is a nice video by the Rank Math team to show how to create an HTML sitemap using Rank Math.
Do I Need To Use Both Types Of Sitemap?
I would prefer to use both as XML site map is a must for search engines and HTML sitemap is good for visitors. If you have both sitemaps it will add value to your website in terms of search appearance and website credibility.
Conclusion: How To Create A Sitemap In WordPress
A sitemap is a must nowadays if you want to put your blog into search results. Hopefully, this article could able to give an insight into sitemaps and the benefits of sitemaps.
That’s all I have in this article. Hopefully, you got some useful information from this article. If you have any questions, then do write in the comment section and I will be happy to answer you.