Creating and Adding WordPress Sitemap

The Importance of Sitemaps for Your Website’s SEO

In today’s digital age, websites come in all shapes and sizes. However, the larger a website becomes, the more difficult it is to navigate without effective navigation menus. This is true not only from a human perspective but also from the perspective of a crawler, which is a bot sent by search engines to check out your website. This is where sitemaps come in handy.

A sitemap is similar to a real map, but for search engines. It helps search engines find and access every recess of your website easily. Sitemaps are essential for websites that are genuinely large or have a lot of content under many different categories. When websites become larger, they make it more difficult for search engines to navigate and crawl through newer content.

If you have a lot of content that has been poorly linked to each other, or if you have any content that is isolated from your website, it is considered an orphan and has no means of access for a visitor. In such situations, if search engines do not provide a link for them, they will be entirely isolated with no traffic whatsoever. A sitemap will cover non-referenced, isolated content on your website.

Sitemaps also take into account websites’ rich media information and metadata. This helps search engines understand what your website is all about and the importance of particular URLs on your website relative to other URLs on the same site. Google also informs us that sitemaps may aid the websites themselves, although a sitemap does not guarantee that every web page is indexed.

In short, it is definitely better to have sitemaps than not to have them. They make a search engine’s job a bit easier, and most web admins who submit their sitemaps tend to benefit from it more often than not.

How Do You Create A Sitemap?

You can either create it using a dedicated plugin for sitemaps or use a search engine optimization plugin. Given that a great number of WordPress bloggers use Yoast SEO, I’ll start by discussing how we can create and submit sitemaps using Yoast SEO.

If you are using a search engine optimization plugin, either Yoast SEO or something similar, you normally wouldn’t have to do anything. Sitemap generation is typically enabled by default. It isn’t sufficient to merely create the sitemaps; search engines need to be notified of the change. Yoast makes this easy, since the plugin automatically pings Google and Bing.

Yoast SEO also produces an XML stylesheet that can be read as an HTML file. The importance of this lies in the fact that you can actually verify that the right URLs are represented and included with appropriate priority in the sitemaps.

It is important to ensure that your sitemap is frequently updated, or at least as frequently as you publish new posts in the very least. From the XML stylesheet above, you’ll notice there is a priority rating for each URL, a frequency for sitemap generation with the number of images and the last change date specified.

All of this information is very relevant to your search engine rankings. For example, the freshness of your content, including the amount of change on your website, the frequency of change, and how old the content is. All three of these factors can greatly affect your site’s search engine rankings.

Another plugin that I would like to introduce is the XML Sitemap Generator. On the off chance that you do not use Yoast SEO and your current search engine optimization plugin does not provide a sitemap, this plugin creates a sitemap that is stored and made available to search engine crawlers.

With XML Sitemap generator plugin, you can specify which parts of your website get included as part of your web sitemaps. Similarly, you can also exclude certain specific posts and certain categories.

Both plugins automatically submit your sitemap to search engines, so you do not have to do it. Now the chances are that this will work perfectly. But for some reason, if they do not, you can always download a copy of your sitemap and upload it to the Google Search Console or do it from your Google webmaster account. And if you’d rather not use a plugin for sitemap generation, you can use an online Sitemap Generator.

Many websites now engage in content syndication, and some even actively steal content and post it on their websites without any formal permission from the site owner (also called content scraping). Due to new changes incorporated in Google’s search algorithms, websites that copy content are punished rather harshly. This is a good thing – we just need to ensure that your website’s work is recognized as the original content generator.

Creating sitemaps as and when you publish new posts will enable you to do just that. No matter how many times your site’s content is stolen, Google’s search results will reflect the fact that any content stolen from your website is rightfully yours.

In conclusion, there is ever more emphasis on developing better machine learning-based algorithms, and search engines like Google are literally getting smarter. But no matter how smart they get, a sitemap can always help the crawlers to act intelligently and give you some quantum of control over how seriously a search engine takes the different parts of your website. Cheers!

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