For many SEO and web design professionals, generating and submitting a sitemap is the first step for their web project or Search Engine Optimizations process. Post sitemap submission to search engines, you can evidence a spike in traffic and better SEO results. In this post, we are going to provide an overview of what sitemaps are, why they really matter, how to create a sitemap using a plugin or online sitemap generator as well as manually.
- What’s a sitemap?
A sitemap is a visual representation of a website’s structure which contains a list of entire site’s pages/post links. There are two types of sitemaps, having different file format and usability.
HTML – a web page you show the structure of your website. You may have come across various websites having user-visible sitemaps which present a systematic view or just a hierarchy of the site. This kind of alphabetically organized sitemaps are intended to help visitors find specific pages, and can also be used by crawlers.
XML – a file you list all URLs of your website. This type is called “Sitemap” and is created for search engine crawlers to crawl your website, index your content and list properly in the search results.
- Why create a sitemap?
Sitemaps are best developed at the outset of a project. Search engine crawlers usually discover pages from links within the site and from other sites. Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:
- Your site has dynamic content
- Your site uses rich Ajax or Flash (not normally processed by search engines)
- Your site is new and has few links to it
- Your site has a large archive of content pages that are not well linked to each other, or not available through the browsable interface some areas of the website
In addition, Sitemap allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL: when it was last updated, how often it changes and how important it is, relative to other URLs on the website. This allows search engines to crawl the site more intelligently.
- How to create a sitemap for your website?
Today, there are many tools available online, which helps you to create a sitemap for websites and blogs. Depending on your website framework, you can create the sitemap accordingly.
If you are a WordPress user, then you have various plugins which allow you to create a sitemap file for your website or blogs. However, we recommend you to use sitemap generator tool from Yoast SEO (if already using for SEO purpose) else you can search for an extremely popular plugin called “Google XML Sitemaps”. Once you have enabled the plugin, you can simply check the sitemap file which is located in your root directory.
Now we are going to show you how to create a sitemap using these plugins.
- Create sitemap using Yoast SEO plugin
Yoast SEO plugin comes with rich features. It allows users to create a sitemap file for their website. One just needs to enable the sitemap features and the rest plugin will do itself. However, we are going to show you how you can enable this feature.
- Go to the SEO section and select the XML Sitemaps.
- Enable the XML site functionality
- Click on “save changes”
- Your sitemap has been created successfully and placed in your root directory
- To check your sitemap, type your website URL and add (/sitemap_index.xml)
- Create sitemap using Google XML Sitemaps
Google XML Sitemap is an extremely popular plugin available in WordPress plugins directory. This tool comes with various features and lets you to customize accordingly. Before you use this plugin, just make sure you already have installed and activated it for your website. To create a sitemap file using this plugin, follow below steps: –
- Navigate to the setting options and select XML-Sitemap options
- Go to the Sitemap Content section and select the content that you want in the sitemap.xml file.
- Go to the priorities section and change accordingly
- Now, click on the “Update Options”
- You have created your dynamic sitemap file for your website.
3. Create sitemap.xml file manually
If your website doesn’t use WordPress framework, then you have to create your website’s sitemap manually. Below are the essential steps that you can follow: –
- Create a text file and save it with a .xml extension (ie. sitemap.xml)
- First lines of the file:
<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?> <urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>
- Create an entry for each URL. The <loc> tag is required, the others are optional.
<url> <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc> <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod> <changefreq>monthly</changefreq> <priority>0.8</priority> </url>
- Last line of the file:
- Upload the file to your server and then submit it to the search engines.
Other than this manual method, you can also use an online sitemap generator to create your sitemap. Below are the links for the same.
We believe you find it useful! For further reading, you can consider how to limit and disable post revisions in WordPress and how to speed up WordPress website performance.