I understand the frustration associated with creating a WordPress site, there are lots to do and to implement, it sometimes feels as if it’s a never-ending process. I understand as I’ve been there before (especially with this blog). As you’re here, I’m guessing you’re at the stage of thinking about adding a sitemap to your WordPress site. Good call.
Why Should You Create A Sitemap For Your WordPress Site?
This is a question that I get asked a lot, people tend to ask: why do I need a sitemap file for WordPress site? What does it do?
If you’re unaware, a sitemap file outlines all of the pages on your site, every post you’ve ever written, pages (contact pages, about pages etc), forum posts, everything (almost). Therefore, you can provide this sitemap file to Google, so Googlebot has a rough idea of the roadmap it needs to take and the pages contained within your site architecture. It’s a file that’s sole purpose is to guide search engine crawlers to the correct destinations. However, it can be used by users too if they navigate to where the sitemap is located on your web server.
I could imagine that this sounds complicated to the non-technical wiz, but it’s honestly quite straight forward to create a sitemap page for your WordPress site.
In the first instance, you will need to make the choice of whether or you not you’re looking to manually create your WordPress sitemap file or to automate it. There are two manual ways you’re able to create a sitemap file, using the following markup languages:
Both serve the same purpose, they are just created in different ways. Your mind is probably blown away right now and you have no idea of the above two languages, not to worry, as your site is created with WordPress you can create a sitemap file without having any technical knowledge of those languages. It only takes a couple of minutes.
However, if you are interested in manually creating your sitemap file by yourself and without the help of WordPress, I would recommend checking out these sitemap protocols to get started.
How To Create A Sitemap File For Your WordPress Site
As WordPress is one of the most successful content management systems in the world, lots of plugins have been developed by webmasters to improve the way we do things while using WordPress. I heard that 27% of online sites are powered by WordPress, if so, bravo! That’s a huge amount, anyway, back to topic.
Luckily enough, for us, some kind webmaster has developed a plugin that allows us to automatically create and generate a sitemap file by a click of a button. It’s a free plugin that can be downloaded directly from the dashboard of your WordPress site, it will get together all of your pages and posts into one singular file which can then be submitted to Google using webmaster tools. It’s that easy.
The best thing is: this WordPress plugin will proactively update your sitemap file depending on your site’s current state, e.g if you decide to delete a page, the plugin will remove that entry from the sitemap file automatically. Even though broken links in the sitemap file are ignored by Google, it’s still good practice to have up-to-date links in your sitemap to avoid wasting Google’s time, and this plugin automates that process for you. Once it’s installed and configured, you won’t have to touch it again.
There are two different sitemap plugins that can be used to create a sitemap for a WordPress site:
Sorry, my apologies, these aren’t just the only two that are capable of generating a sitemap file for a WordPress site, but I feel as if these two are better ones currently on the market. Both of these are completely free and ready to download via a click of a button. You can either download the zip file directly and conduct a manual folder upload to the /wp-content/plugins/ directory on your web server, or you can click ‘Add New’ in the plugin section of WordPress and search for it directly. If you’re relatively new to the WordPress scene, I’d suggest going down route 2 (Installing via the WordPress plugin system in /wp-admin/).
This can be done by navigating to ‘Add New’ under the ‘Plugins’ tab, searching for ‘Google XML Sitemap’ and then clicking ‘Install Now’.
Once installed, you will have a sitemap file generated for you that’s accessible by going to ‘yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml’. You will be able to see something similar to this:
There are advantages to each of the sitemaps, however, as an end result, I personally use Google XML Sitemaps.
Google XML Sitemaps Features:
- The flexibility to be able to customise most of the parameters used in the sitemap file, such as priorities, frequency etc;
- The plugin is available in many different languages, not just English;
- Once the plugin has been installed, it will automatically generate a sitemap for you;
- Notifies the most popular search engines about your sitemap file (Ask.com, MSN, Yahoo, Google etc);
- Automatically updates your sitemap file whenever you add/delete a page, post or another element that you specify.
- The flexibility to be able to incorporate other plugin files to the sitemap + lots more.
Here is a short tutorial on YouTube explaining how you can setup a sitemap file for your WordPress site using Google XML Sitemaps (please be advised that we aren’t the creators of this video):
You can download Google XML Sitemaps here.