There are two things you need to do immediately when starting a new WordPress blog:
- Create an XML sitemap
- Upload it to Google Search Console
Even though the whole process is very quick and extremely simple, some websites still don’t utilize this important SEO practice.
In this article, I will explain what a sitemap is, why it’s so important, how to create it for your WordPress blog and how to submit it to Google.
Improve your SEO with WordPress XML Sitemap
- What is a sitemap?
- Why do you need a sitemap?
- How to create a sitemap in WordPress?
- How to submit your sitemap to Google?
1. What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is a file that lists the content of your website and navigates visitors and search engines to individual pages.
There are two types of sitemaps:
- XML sitemap focuses on search engines and contains metadata about URLs
- HTML sitemap focuses on visitors and works as a user- friendly navigation
In this article, we will discuss XML sitemap which is primarily created for search engines like Google or Bing, so they can understand the structure of your website and index its content.
2. Why do you need a sitemap?
Sitemap is an extremely important SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tool for these reasons:
- sitemap informs search engines about the structure and changes on your website
- it helps crawlers to faster index your website
- and it also helps search engines to better understand poorly structured pages
Sitemaps are also especially useful for new websites. When you start a blog, you don’t have any backlinks so it’s hard for Google to discover the content of your blog.
Luckily, Google allows you to submit your sitemap manually and I will show you exactly how to do this, but first, we need to create it.
3. How to create a sitemap in WordPress?
The easiest way to create a sitemap in WordPress is Yoast SEO plugin. This is one of the most popular plugins for improving your website’s optimization.
Even though since WordPress 5.5, there is a basic XML sitemap feature, you can’t manually control what to add or remove from it.
Yoast SEO plugin takes care of many content-related issues like readability and keywords density. It also automatically generates XML sitemap for your WordPress blog.
Once you install and activate Yoast SEO plugin, you can check XML sitemap in SEO -> General on the Features tab:
When you scroll down, you should be able to locate the XML sitemaps value and check that it is turned on by default:
4. How to submit your sitemap to Google?
To submit your sitemap to Google, you need to sign up to Google Search Console and create a free account.
Then, you need to add your domain name and verify the ownership. I published a step-by-step tutorial on YouTube where I explain the whole process.
A sitemap plays an important role in your SEO efforts because it helps search engines to better understand your website so they can quickly crawl new content.
Even though sitemap doesn’t affect your search rankings, it informs Google about the changes on your website structure.
Thanks to Yoast SEO plugin, you don’t need to create a sitemap for your WordPress blog manually. It’s automatically created for you and all you have to do is upload it to Google Search Console.