You are a website owner and have been creating websites after website. You would carefully develop content and post it on the site. However, the web content you create using WordPress or any other CMS solutions will be intelligible and useful only for human beings.
Search engines may find it a little difficult to understand it properly. That is precisely where the sitemap comes to the fore. You are expected to submit your sitemap to Google or other search engines for being able to rank better and let search engines understand it correctly.
What is a Sitemap? Before you Submit Sitemap to Google!
Well, the name should in itself let out what is it. A sitemap is a map of all the content on your site. It provides a complete idea about your website and its contents for the search engines and humans alike.
A sitemap can be beneficial for both search engine optimization and usability. There are two types of sitemaps – XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps. Each of the sitemap types come with their own set of benefits. Let us check out the functionality in more exceptional detail.
XML sitemap and HTML Sitemap – An Overview
An XML sitemap is an option that can help search engines find all the content on your website. It includes the URL addresses of all the content on your website that is publicly visible. However, your human visitors will perhaps not have a look at it.
An XML sitemap lists all the URLs of your website and a select list of other elements. The additional information would involve the number of images on each of the URLs. It also includes details on when the content was modified. You can even have a separate sitemap for the photos and other media types. The XML Sitemap is specifically designed for the search engines alone.
The HTML Sitemap is more useful for human visitors than the search engines. However, that should not mean that it does not serve any useful purpose from the SEO point of view.
While the XML sitemap is a mere collection of codes, the HTML sitemap is an actual page designed on your website. It is created for making it helpful for the site visitors to navigate through the website. The HTML content will help find the most famous content in an easily accessible manner.
In sharp contrast to the XML sitemap, the HTML sitemap consists of links to all your content on the site. This can be ideally useful for human visitors to reach your favorite content right away. It is purely in a human-readable format and does not need you to know any coding.
Which one should you prefer? Well, both of them have their advantages. The XML sitemap is an excellent option from the SEO point of view. It is used to tell Google or other search engines about all your content.
This can help rank your content because the sitemap is quite useful enough in letting Google know about all the content on your site. Though not all your content is inserted in the search results, it can help you improve the chances of better ranking.
It also lets you share the additional information on the content and any metadata changes to it to Google and other search engines such as Bing or Yahoo. Some of the additional information shared with search engines would include how often the page has been changed when the page was updated etc. Also, are there any alternative languages used on the site.
The HTML sitemap, on the other hand, is beneficial for humans. It is an option for human visitors to understand the structure of the site and access the content with ease. It may not be mainly be directed towards the SEO benefits in its entirety.
An HTML sitemap can be considered to be a group of internal links and can be an excellent option to spread the link juice (Authority) accordingly around the site. It can also provide access to Google crawlers to find the content more positively for quicker indexing.
From the Google point of view, Google recommends creating a sitemap but does not make it a penalizable offense if you have not created a sitemap.
How to create a Sitemap on WordPress?
Well, that was how sitemaps could be beneficial on a website. However, how would you create a Sitemap in WordPress? The tutorial should provide you with an input into the best options and tips to create an XML sitemap.
There are several options to create a sitemap on WordPress, but since we are not interested in creating a sitemap with the use of plugins, we will use the other route. WordPress does provide you access to a Sitemap Generator Tool.
You can make use of the functionality through the multiple options like a cloud-based option, desktop programs, and through a WordPress plugin.
Here are the steps involved in the creation of sitemap on WordPress –
- Visit the site for XML sitemap Generator tool.
- Scroll down and click on Online sitemap generator option.
- Enter the details like your site URL and other aspects of your site on the online generator.
Enter the following details inappropriate places –
- Enter the URL of your website homepage
- Choose the option to calculate the modified date
- Choose the change frequency
- Choose the default crawl priority
- Enter your Email address
- Click on the option Generate Sitemap.
You may also click on the option More Settings to toggle and configure the more advanced options. Do note that it would be advisable to opt for the advanced settings only if you are confident enough of handling them. For most of the generalized performance, it may not be needed to opt for the More Settings option.
The generation of the sitemap will take time depending upon the size of the website. If your site is smaller enough, it should take a while for generating the sitemap. If your site is more extensive enough, it may be needed to wait a little longer.
Once the sitemap is created, you have the option to download the requisite sitemaps. The online sitemap generator lets you the sitemap in four formats – XML sitemap, HTML sitemap, RSS sitemap, and Text Sitemap.
Once the sitemap is downloaded, you will need to upload it to the root folder of your website. Then, submit it to Google or any other search engines of your choice.
How to submit Sitemap to Google or other search engines?
That completes the task of creating a sitemap is much simple and more straightforward. Creating a sitemap is just a part of the job. Unless you submit the sitemap to Google, it would not be a good option. The best option is to submit the sitemap to most of the major search engines.
You will need to have a Google Search Console account for submitting your sitemap to Google. We assume you also have access to a similar webmaster tool of their own. We will not go into the details of how to set up a Google Search Console account. How to set up a Google Search Console account is beyond the scope of this post.
Here are the steps involved in submitting your sitemap to Google Search engine –
- Login to your Google Search Console.
- Click on your website. If you have multiple web properties under one Search Console account, you will need to choose the account you would want to add the sitemap to.
- Choose the Dashboard for the site
- Locate and find the option Crawl under the left side pane.
- Click on Sitemaps
Once on the page, click on the option Add/test sitemap. You should find the option at the top right corner. Now add the location for your sitemap and click on Submit.
That does it. You have successfully submitted your sitemap to Google Search Console.
Please note that there are several options in the form of plugins that can help you get the best out of the sitemap creation. Some of the excellent plugins that can assist you in adding and submitting a sitemap to search engines include the following:
- Yoast SEO plugin,
- All in One SEO Pack,
- XML Sitemap &
- Google News Feed
They would indeed simplify the task of creating a sitemap.
A Few FAQs on Sitemaps for the WordPress Site
Well, even after understanding the differences and basic concepts involved in creating your sitemaps and submitting it to your search engines, here are a few questions that you would want to answer –
Q – Is there any need for updating the sitemap manually?
A – Not necessarily. The sitemaps – whether XML and HTML are updated regularly. There is no need for updating the sitemap on a manual basis.
Q – Will Google index all the content on your sitemap?
A – Sitemaps are used to make google find all the content, but that should not mean all your content will be indexed. The decision ultimately rests with Google (or for that matter, any other search engine).
Q – Is there any specific number of pages that a sitemap supports?
A – A single sitemap supports only up to 50,000 pages or URLs. However, you need not worry if your site exceeds that number. You can always create multiple sitemaps and collect them through a sitemap index file.
The Concluding Thoughts
In essence, the sitemaps are designed to be one of the best options for use with the SEO improvement of your site. They do come with several advantages, most of which have already been explained in the previous paragraphs.
Make sure that you are using at least one XML sitemap and one HTML sitemap for your site. The former will serve you the best from the SEO point of view, while the later will be beneficial for the human visitors to your website would benefit from.
Of course, that should not mean your site will achieve the best search engine rankings just because you have a sitemap, but it does serve you in that quest.