Sitemap. You must have heard it dozens of times before.
But do you actually what a sitemap is and why is it so important for your website?
In this blog post, we are going to briefly discuss what a sitemap is, what functions it performs, how can you create a sitemap for your website, and some other technical aspects of having a sitemap.
Let’s start from the top.
Simply speaking, a sitemap is just that … a map of your website.
It contains vital information regarding your website and its primary job is to inform search engines, such as Google, of all the different pages your website contains.
A sitemap is very important because it allows search engines to get detailed information about your website. Moreover, it also increases accessibility — as it allows search engines to access all the web pages of your website. Eventually, this accessibility allows search engines to quickly find all the pages of your website and rank them in the search engines.
In other words, having a sitemap may directly affect your search engine rankings.
However, please note that just having a sitemap does not guarantee higher search engine rankings — or even search engine listings for that matter. A sitemap never guarantees that a certain webpage will be ranked in search engine listings. What a sitemap actually does is that it increases the visibility of your content and lets search engine crawlers fully access your website and all its contents and different web pages.
A sitemap can have multiple formats, namely:
Google Sites (for websites built and verified with Google Sites)
For more details regarding all these different formats of a sitemap, read this article by Google.
Having said that, XML is by far the most common sitemap format used by most webmasters. And since most websites and blogs are powered by WordPress, WordPress fully supports the XML format. It is actually recommended.
A sitemap is great for your website, but it does not come without limitations.
For instance, a sitemap cannot contain more than 50,000 URLs. Also, the sitemap file cannot be larger than 10 MB.
For most websites and businesses, one sitemap file should be enough, as very few websites contain more than 50,000 URLs.
However, if you have an enormously large website with more than 50,000 URLs, you might want to explore other options as a single sitemap file wouldn’t do the job.
If that is the case with your website, you will need multiple sitemaps and a sitemap index file.
The concept is that since one sitemap cannot contain all the different URLs of your website (50,000+), you have to create multiple sitemaps.
Then, all those sitemaps would be accessed via a sitemap index.
In other words, a sitemap index contains multiple sitemaps that contain the entire information about a website.
Now that you have all the important information regarding what a sitemap is, why it is created, and what are its limitations, let’s dive into our main topic, i.e.,
How to create a sitemap?
Thankfully, you do not have to know any codes to actually create a sitemap. There are tools that let you build sitemaps in just a few clicks and seconds.
One simple way to create a sitemap is by doing it via XML-sitemaps.com.
Just enter the URL of your website and let it crawl all the pages on your site. Once it finishes doing it, it will create an XML sitemap file for you that you upload/add to your Google Webmaster Account (now termed as Google Search Console)
Another method is to have a third-party WordPress plugin create your sitemap file. Yoast SEO Plugin is by far one of the best SEO plugins for WordPress websites. It performs a lot of important functions to improve the SEO of your website. And one of those important functions is that it lets you create an up-to-date sitemap file for your website.
Once you have installed Yoast SEO Plugin, look for it in the left sidebar, and click the XML Sitemaps.
Then ‘enable’ the sitemap functionality and let the plugin do its magic.
You can also find your XML Sitemap under the ‘General’ Tab. Just click on the ‘XML Sitemap’ button, as shown in the following image.
Sitemaps are important. Make sure that your website has one. Although it will not guarantee any particular place in the search engine results pages, it makes all the contents of your web page accessible to search engines. And that helps with search engine robots crawling your website and, potentially, increasing your chances of getting ranked in the SERPs.