PHPMatters Help You Better Hosting Your PHP-based Sites
The Beginner's Guide on WordPress XML Sitemap

The Beginner’s Guide on WordPress XML Sitemap

Creating a XML sitemap for your WordPress website is a critical practice that can benefit the search engine optimization to a large extent. With it, Google and all the other major search engines can understand your site in an easy way while crawling it, thus index your webpages effectively.

In the following, we’d like to come out a detailed guidance about XML sitemap, telling you what it is, why it is necessary and how to generate one for your WordPress website.

About XML Sitemap

In fact, the XML sitemap can be regarded as a protocol that tells all the main search engines that the links on your website are available for crawling, so that these searching spiders can never miss anything that is worth indexing. Besides this main function, the XML sitemap is also useful for the following aspects.

  • Tells search engines which part on your site is extremely important.
  • Indicates how frequently you will update your site.
  • Informs when your site was updated lastly.
  • Showcase how your webpages are related to each other.

Without doubt, all of these features that XML sitemap achieves can help search engines better learn about your site, and index it in an intelligent manner.

Why the XML Sitemap Is Necessary

Frankly speaking, the XML sitemap cannot improve your website ranking and daily traffic directly, but it influences the indexing of your webpages by searching robots.

As the majority of your traffic is organic that is coming from the search engines, the great function of a sitemap can give you an effective online visibility by guaranteeing that all your links can be indexed without missing.

For new websites, the XML sitemap helps searching spiders discover the webpages quickly. For popular and large sites, it allows search engines to set a regular rate for crawling by analyzing how these sites are frequently changed.

Create the XML Sitemap for WordPress Sites

In fact, creating the XML sitemap for your WordPress site is not a difficult task as there are a lot of useful sitemap plugins for you to leverage. This time, we’d like to take the most widely used Yoast SEO plugin as an example.

Step 1 – Install and Configure the Plugin

After installing this plugin and activating it, you can find a newly-added SEO tab in your WordPress administrative panel. Here, you need to click the “XML Sitemaps” button from the drop-down menu to enter the setting page.

XML Sitemap Plugin

By default, this plugin does not enable the XML sitemap, so you should check the box that is used to activate its functionality.

After that, you need to decide the maximum entries for each sitemap page. The default number is 1000, but you can lower the limit to prevent the memory issues.

Optionally, you can also choose to disable the user/author sitemap, exclude the posts types of Posts, Pages and Media, as well as the taxonomies of Categories, Tags and Format from your sitemap lists.

Now, you need to wait at least 24 hours for this plugin to generate the sitemap. Then, you can check your sitemap by clicking the “XML Sitemap” button like the image showed as above. From it, you can know how your webpages are valued for the priority, whether they have the images, how frequently they are changed and when they are last modified.

XML Sitemap Example

Step 2 – Submit Your Sitemap to Search Engines

It is true that all the major search engines are smart enough for finding your XML sitemap, but we still recommend you to submit your sitemap to them for accelerating the process. Check the detailed steps for this practice in the following.

Submit to Google

To submit your XML sitemap to Google, you need to use the Google Webmaster Tool. After signing to your Google account and entering this special Google tool, you can find an “Add a Property” button. Click it and enter your domain.

Next, you should verify your ownership of this site. For this, the recommended method is by uploading the special HTML verification file to your site. Check the steps from the following screenshot.

Submit XML Sitemap to Google

Now, you can be presented with detailed statistics of whether your submitted contents have been indexed properly. To check it, you simply need to click Google Index > Crawl > Sitemaps from the left-hand column, and have a look at the bar chart to figure out how your website is indexed.

Sitemap Statistics in Google

Submit to Bing

For this practice, you need to leverage the power of Bing Webmaster Tool. After signing in using the Microsoft ID, you firstly need to add your website and verify the ownership by entering all the information required about you and your website.

In the “About My Website” section, you can find an “add a sitemap” option. Here, you need to enter the full URL of your sitemap. Generally, this URL is just like “http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml”.

Add Sitemap to Bing

After filling out all the required fields and clicking the Save button, you can be redirected to the dashboard of the Bing Webmaster Tool, from which you can find a “Verify Now” button. Click it and choose the verification method of “adding the meta tag in header”. Then, you can be presented with a line of random code. Copy and save it.

Next, you need to go back to your WordPress admin and click the General button from the SEO drop down. Then, target the Webmaster Tools option and enter the earlier verification code into the area of Bing Webmaster Tools.

Add Verification Code to Bing Webmaster Tool

Now, you have your website and XML sitemap added to Bing successfully. Therefore, when you enter the dashboard of this tool, you can check your crawling and indexing situation clearly.

Sitemap Statistics in Bing