Even though an XML sitemap doesn’t directly improve your SEO, it is a vital part of letting search engines know about the content of your website so it improves your site visibility. In this post, we will learn what a WordPress sitemap is and how to use it, informing for both RSS and XML sitemap. Let’s start!
What is an XML sitemap?
An XML sitemap is like a roadmap for search engines like Google and Bing, guiding them through the maze of your WordPress website. It’s a file in XML format that lists all the important pages, posts, and other content on your site, providing search engines with valuable information about the structure and hierarchy of your web pages.
By creating and submitting an XML sitemap, you’re essentially offering search engines a clear blueprint of your site’s architecture, helping them crawl and index your content more efficiently.
In simple terms, XML is a language that search engines can understand easily, ensuring they don’t miss any crucial details about your site’s content. To optimize your website for search engines, it has become crucial to generate an XML sitemap.
How to create a WordPress sitemap
There are two methods for generating a sitemap for a WordPress website. Let’s take a closer look at both of them.
How to create an XML sitemap for a WordPress website
Creating a sitemap in WordPress is now more straightforward than ever, thanks to a built-in feature introduced in WordPress 5.5 and later. No need for additional plugins.
Within the “Settings” menu, click on “Reading.” You’ll find the option to discourage search engines from indexing your site. Ensure this option is unchecked to enable search engine indexing and Save Changes.
To view your default XML sitemap, you can add “wp-sitemap.xml” at the end of your domain name like this:
This streamlined method ensures that your WordPress website is well-charted for search engines, promoting efficient crawling and indexing. However, note that, in this method, you cannot add or remove pages from your sitemap. You might need this customization flexibility, so let’s explore another avenue using a sitemap plugin.
How to create an XML sitemap in WordPress with a plugin
If you’re looking for more control and additional features, a sitemap plugin is another way to create a sitemap. Plugins like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack simplify the process and offer valuable insights into your site’s SEO health. Also, some SEO plugins, such as the above, automatically create an XML sitemap for your website. Here’s a step-by-step guide:
- Install and Activate the SEO Plugin: Head to the WordPress plugin repository, search for your preferred SEO plugin, and install and activate it.
- Access the Plugin Settings: Find the plugin settings in your WordPress Dashboard. Look for an option with XML sitemaps; it’s usually prominently displayed.
- Configure Sitemap Settings: Follow the plugin’s instructions to configure your sitemap settings. You might be able to customize the frequency of updates, prioritize specific content, or exclude certain pages.
- Save Changes: Once you’ve fine-tuned your preferences, save the changes. The plugin automatically generates and updates your XML sitemap, ensuring it aligns perfectly with your SEO strategy.
What is an RSS sitemap?
An RSS sitemap is essentially a specialized feed that provides a summarized version of your content. Instead of presenting the entirety of your WordPress site structure, the RSS sitemap is designed to promptly inform Google about your freshest content, ensuring swift indexing of your latest updates.
In WordPress, you can easily create an RSS sitemap using an SEO plugin. Many popular SEO plugins for WordPress offer features that allow you to generate an RSS sitemap with just a few clicks. Once the plugin is installed and activated, you can navigate to the settings and enable the RSS sitemap feature. The plugin will automatically generate and update the RSS sitemap for your website, making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your content. Creating an RSS sitemap can significantly impact your website’s SEO performance.
Why you need both XML and RSS sitemaps
By using both XML and RSS sitemap, you let search engines know about your website content and updated content. More specifically, why you need both:
- Comprehensive Indexing: XML sitemaps serve as the comprehensive guide for search engines, offering a detailed roadmap to your entire website. It helps search engine bots crawl and index your pages efficiently.
- Content Syndication: RSS sitemaps, conversely, cater to content syndication. They allow search engines to easily crawl pages with new updates, ensuring that your latest content reaches your audience.
- Enhanced Visibility: Having both XML sitemap and RSS feed ensures that you inform search engines about your website content and notify them of content updates.
Last, you can manually submit a sitemap you created to Google via Google Search Console by following the steps in their documentation. Other search engines have a similar procedure. By submitting your sitemap URL manually, you inform search engines of all the pages on your website and can index them appropriately.
XML and RSS sitemaps emerge as your WordPress website’s trusted allies. The XML sitemap acts as a meticulous guide, leading search engines through the labyrinth of your content, while the RSS updates the sitemap content with new changes. The dynamic combination of XML and RSS sitemaps is not just a technical necessity—it’s a strategic move toward a comprehensive online presence.