WordPress SEO in 5 Minutes – What is a Sitemap?

XML sitemaps help search engines crawl a site better. Here’s a quickie on all you need to know about sitemaps from our SEO agency in Perth.

What is an XML sitemap?

The XML sitemap is a file that displays a list of all the URLs that you want to be available to users. In other words, it is a list of URLs in XML format that search engines can easily crawl and index.

Also, it tells search engines which links need to be indexed, which ones needto be left out, how frequently you update the website and other information like the number of images and videos.

An XML sitemap is not a direct ranking factor, but it allows search engines to crawl your website better and faster. This helps in finding and showing your content faster and can further help in search results in the long run.

A Sitemap.xml file has a limit of 50,000 URLs. That is a good enough limit for most sites. If you need to include more than that, you can still do it. Have one master sitemap file that links to specific sitemaps. Each of these linked maps can further include 50,000 URLs.

What does a sitemap look like?

See below an example of a map created by the Yoast SEO plugin.

Why does your site need one?

Sitemaps ensure better crawlability in more than one way.

  • Your content gets crawled and indexed faster.
  • You can prioritize certain content over others by adding metadata.
  • Submit your sitemap to Google Search Console to get information on how effectively your pages are getting indexed.
  • Most new websites or blogs won’t have backlinks which makes it harder for search engines to find all of their content. Submitting sitemaps to Google Search Console can solve this problem.
  • Search engines can take additional information from sitemaps while indexing videos and images.

How to set up a sitemap?

The easiest way to create sitemaps for your WordPress site is by using plugins. Yoast SEO and Google XML sitemaps plugin are two most popular plugins. Yoast SEO creates multiple sitemaps for each type of content like posts, pages, categories etc. by default. You can view the map by adding sitemap_index.xml to the site address. With Google XML SEO, you can view the map by adding sitemap.xml to the site address. You can take the help of professionals if you are unable to decide on which plugin is the best for you or find setting up difficult. In our example, we have used Yoast which is a plugin we highly recommend.

Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console

Search engines can find a sitemap once it is created, but it is always better to submit it manually to Google Search Console. It is a free tool that lets you monitor your site’s performance in search results. After you have added and verified your account, you can submit it in the console. Once Google has crawled your site, you can see sitemap statistics. These include the number of pages that got indexed, number of links that Google found, when was thelast update done, crawl errors and more. This information lets you correct any errors, which is preventing pages from getting indexed properly.

Hope you found this information useful. For more information on how to use sitemaps, Contact us today or email at squad@codesquad.com.au and speak to our WordPress experts from our web development team in Perth.

Codesquad is a member of The Computing Australia Group of Companies.

Jargon Busters

Crawling – It is the name given to the process by which Google search bots visit and analyse the content on a page. In simpler terms, crawling = visiting a site.
Indexing – Means that your page is eligible to display in SERPs. It is the collection of contents (found while crawling) to be displayed in SERPs.
Backlinks – Also known as inbound link or incoming links. When one website content mentions another site, and links to it, it is called a backlink.
Google Search Console – A free web tool from Google to monitor and maintain the performance of your site in Google Search Results.