When developing a website, it is a good idea to plan a layout of all pages and sections. This practice will help ensure a smooth navigation experience for future visitors and organize the content development workload.
An XML sitemap, however, is not made for human visitors. Rather, they are made specifically for search engine crawlers that navigate a website and index its pages. They expedite the discovery of new content and therefore give your site an SEO boost.
Follow the instructions below to create a sitemap for your WordPress website:
Using Yoast SEO
The simplest way to create a sitemap for your site is to use an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO. You can quickly install this plugin straight from the WordPress plugin library.
As the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress, Yoast SEO has everything you need for on-page optimization. When it comes to creating sitemaps, go to your WordPress Dashboard > SEO > XML Sitemaps.
Make sure to select “Enabled” under XML sitemap functionality. If enabled, you can get your XML sitemap by clicking on the XML Sitemap button.
One of the advantages of using Yoast SEO for creating sitemaps is the ease of configuration. For example, you can easily create a user sitemap by enabling the “Author/user sitemap” function. From there, you can specify which users are included in the sitemap such as users without posts, administrations, contributors, and so on.
You can also determine which types of posts can be included in your sitemap. Apart from posts and pages, you can also choose to add media attachments, which can make your images more searchable.
Finally, you can exclude posts by specifying their individual post IDs under “Excluded Posts.” Take note that the post ID can be obtained by going to Posts à All Posts and then opening the post you want to exclude. The post ID should be visible in the address bar between “post=” and “&.”
Creating HTML Sitemaps
Apart from an XML sitemap, you can also easily create an HTML sitemap with WordPress. The main difference between XML and HTML sitemaps is that the latter can also be used by humans to navigate a website quickly.
To create an HTML sitemap, you can use a separate plugin known as WP Sitemap Page. After installing and activating the plugin, go to Settings > WP Sitemap Page to configure your sitemap.
Just like when creating XML sitemaps, you can also choose to exclude certain post types and specific pages. Upon saving the changes, you can then display your sitemap using by pasting shortcodes to any individual page. A good idea is to make your HTML sitemap page accessible via a footer link.
Submitting Your Sitemap
After creating your sitemap, the next step is to let Google know about it. First, you must log in to your Google account and go to your Search Console homepage. Make sure your website is already listed by clicking “Add a Property” and then following the verification procedure.
Once your site is verified, go to Site configuration > Sitemaps from the left sidebar. Click the “Add/Test Sitemap” button located in the upper-right corner of the screen.
Creating and submitting a sitemap is a simple yet effective way to get your site indexed in search engines. Just follow the instructions above and don’t forget to update your sitemap often.