Home Wordpress What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one? (2022)

What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one? (2022)

by Mr. Geek Tips
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When it comes to the site’s visibility in search results and significant improvement, an XML sitemap is a critical component. In that as well, we’ll find out what sitemaps are and what they can do for us, amongst other things.

What is an XML Sitemap

For the following types of websites, it’s important:

  • Blogs: Sitemaps should be added whenever there is new content on a blog to help search engines find it.
  • Large sites: This type of site is usually misleading to search engines, and they will ignore any new or existing pages.
  • Sites with Unlinked Pages: Many websites ignore internal linking, leaving orphaned pages that search engines can’t find.
  • New sites: Search engines will rely on external links to visit sites without sitemaps, but sitemaps will take up this job if external links aren’t available.
  • Sites with many media: For sites containing huge amounts of media, such as videos and images, sitemaps allow search engines to get a clear picture of the site.

Sitemaps Example

The following is a recommended format for sitemaps that include all of the links to your website:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
  <url>
    <loc>http://www.example.com/wordpress.html</loc>
    <lastmod>2018-06-04</lastmod>
  </url>
</urlset>

<urlset>: is the element through which the XML sitemap file is opened and closed.
<url>: Dedicated to entering each link separately.
<loc>: This element indicates which page or link should be indexed.
<lastmod>: indicates when the file was last modified.

How can an XML sitemap help in SEO optimization?

Crawling as many pages of a site as possible and doing it as quickly and accurately as possible helps search engines index a site more quickly and accurately. There is no doubting that the crawling process is a hard one, but sitemaps can make the process easier for search engines because they act as a guide for them.

Regardless of the size of your website or the number of media you’re including on your site, sitemaps are an extremely useful tool. In the worst-case scenario, search engines may not index the site because search spiders cannot find the content they need to index. After the website is launched, one of the most critical steps is to add sitemaps, as we all know what they can do since they are one of the most important ways of the main marketing channels.

Sitemaps aren’t always necessary, but they can help your site appear in search results when you have a strong internal linking strategy. In this method, search engines are able to access and index all of the site’s pages. However, adding an XML sitemap is always a good idea for the best results. Search spiders aid in the rapid discovery of new content or pages that aren’t linked to each other.

Links to add to XML sitemap

It is important to use the primary link wherever possible when adding a link to a sitemap, for example, if a page has a lot of links based on its content:

  • www.example.com/products
  • www.example.com/products?sort=price
  • www.example.com/products?sort=name

Don’t include any pages that have been marked as noindex or pages that you don’t want to appear in search engines, www.example.com/products.

It’s a good idea to consider whether or not the page or link you’re thinking of adding to a sitemap has content that will actually be useful to the site’s visitors before including it.

Best Plugins for creating XML sitemaps

For WordPress as one of the most widely used content management systems (CMSs) available today, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of plugins that allow you to create a sitemap without any knowledge of the technical or coding aspects:

Yoast SEO

When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), Yoast SEO is a plugin that provides a variety of features from site content optimization to internal linking and writing suggestions, among other things. In order to get the site up and running, you first need to configure it and add the XML sitemap Instantly and automatically. Although it is free, it comes with a premium version that has additional features.

Math Rank

Similar to Yoast SEO, it also provides the same functions, but some prefer it as it provides additional features that are not available in the Yoast plugin, and it also allows you to create and manage the sitemap, with simple and easy steps.

Google XML Sitemaps

This option is available if you don’t want to use SEO plugins that require complicated processes and functionality, such as Google XML Sitemaps. There were a lot of improvements to keep it a top WordPress sitemap plugin.

How to add a sitemap to your site

Installing sitemaps on your site starts with choosing the plugin you want to use. Due to its simplicity and the fact that it is available for free, rank math will be used in this guide. There are a few things you should be doing:

To install the plugin, go to the WordPress dashboard and click on Plugins > Add New, then search for “Rank Math” plugin, install it, and then activate it as the image shown.

install rank math plugin

Simply follow the steps to complete the simple configuration in the next step.
After then, your sitemap should be ready to use; to view it, go to RanK Math> Sitemap settings> and from there, you may verify your sitemap or modify any options.

rank math sitemap

To view your sitemap all you have to do is click the link next ” Your sitemap index can be found here”.

rank math map

The next step is to go to the Google Search Console and login with your Google account, All you have to do is log in, add your website, and confirm ownership.

Then, add “sitemap_index.xml” to google search as shown in the image down then click “submit“.

add sitemap to google

XML Sitemap Best Practices

There are a few things you should keep in mind when creating sitemaps, such as:

Keep Sitemap Up-to-date

Ensure that the sitemap files of the site are updated and provide proper information about the website. The site maps should also be deleted when a page is removed from the site. Also, if you use lastmod, make sure to update the timing whenever a page is changed or updated.

Add only the pages you want to be indexed

If you have a group of pages that you do not want to be indexed by search engines, you should exclude site links that refer to redirects and empty or missing pages from sitemaps.

do not add any pages that have been blocked by robots.txt.

This means that you should not include the page or article in sitemaps if it has been added to a robots.txt file to block search engines from indexing it.

Adhere to the limits of XML sitemaps

Sitemaps must not contain more than 50 thousand links and their file size cannot exceed 50 MB; if the sitemap file exceeds these limits, it must be combined into a single file name XML Sitemap Indexes and then uploaded.

Conclusion

The XML sitemap is one of the most significant aspects of SEO for websites, and no site nowadays does not use it to appear professional and compete. As previously stated, it is not required, but it will add a lot of features that you may not obtain without, and if you want more information about sitemaps, you can find it through the Google search center.

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