When it comes to SEO, XML sitemaps act as an important asset of your website that helps search engines to crawl and index your website carefully. Be it a blogging or an eCommerce or a standard website, an XML sitemap is an important criterion of technical SEO.
By creating sitemaps you are guiding users to your contact page, blog URL, social media page, and other web-pages. In the same way, XML sites are created for a search engine to help in understanding the function and purpose of your website you website
By creating an XML sitemap for your website you are offering a list of web pages and content in a machine-readable format. It acts as a road of your website that not only helps search engines to smartly crawl your website but it also allows your website to rank for the desired keywords.
In this article, we will help you to determine what is the XML sitemap, Why you need XML sitemap, and how you can create sitemaps for your website.
If you are looking to optimize your website for technical SEO then make sure you check our blog on Technical SEO Guide: Tips To Optimize Website For Search Engine In 2020
What is XML Sitemap?
An XML sitemap is a short form of extensible Markup Language that helps in displaying the website information. These files are created with the aim of listing all the content and showcasing how the website is structured.
As mentioned earlier, an XML sitemap is considered the technical part of SEO that helps search engines to identify the purpose of the website, web page and help them to crawl your website more smartly.
In short, Including a sitemap on your website increases the chances of your website appearing on the search engine result page. Most of the websites avoid creating sitemaps thinking that they need to write long codes.
But in reality, You don’t need to have any technical background to create a sitemap for your website. Below we will help you to identify how you can create an XML sitemap for your business.
Why should a website focus on creating an XML sitemap?
Every search engine like Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, and more are continuously making changes in their algorithm with the aim to optimize the user experience. Mainly in recent years, Google has made a lot of changes and introduced many ranking factors like E-A-T, YMYL, and more to display more accurate and relevant results for a particular search query.
It all comes down to how effectively and smartly your website is crawlable by search engine bot and that’s when XML sitemap comes into the picture. The search engine uses crawlers to read, index, and crawl a website and its content.
Having an XML sitemap makes it easy for them to crawl your website smartly and understand the main purpose behind having that particular web page. As a result, the search engine ranks your website for a particular search query. An XML sitemap is a part of technical SEO, there are other on-page SEO techniques that you should consider to rank your website in the top in SERP
Check our blog on On-Page SEO Guide: 8 On-page SEO Techniques To Implement In 2020.
Your sitemap will help search engines to map the location of a particular page on your website, identify the updating frequency of your content, and the purpose of the page (whether it’s a homepage, blog page, or product page).
Not only that but the XML sitemap also helps search engines to indemnify whether the pages on your website are relevant to each other or not. Without a sitemap, your website will be crawled but the search engine may fail to identify its effectiveness. Sometimes without a sitemap google bot starts thinking your website content duplicate which can directly affect your website ranking.
Below we are going to list a few steps that can help you in creating a sitemap for your business. If you are using a CMS platform like WordPress then don’t worry we are also going to mention some important plugins and software that you can use to create a sitemap for your website.
Create Sitemap using plugins and software
1. Create Sitemap Using Yoast Plugin
Yoast SEO plugin is one of the most popular wordpress plugins that allows users to create an XML sitemap within a few steps. Today most of the website is using wordpress as their CMS and there are more than 40% of the website are build using wordpress.
If your website is one among them then Yoast SEO plugin can be the best plugin to create an XML sitemap for your website. Not only that but it also allows you to turn on and off the sitemap for a particular page and post. Below we are listing step by step process on how you can create a sitemap using Yoast SEO plugin.
Enable the advance setting page option
- Navigate to the Yoast SEO option on left side var your wordpress dashboard
- Under the same option, click on Dashboard to access the Yoast SEO plugin dashboard
- In the dashboard and on the top you will find different menus. Click on Features
- Navigate to the “advance page setting” in the same tab
- If you find the advance option disabled then switch to enabled.
- Scroll down and click on save changes
Once you click on the save change option navigate back to your wordpress dashboard. Before when the advance option was disabled you could have found three options under Yoast SEO.
But upon enabling the advanced option you will be able to access the advanced features and tools one among them is XML Sitemap.
Create XML sitemap using Yoast plugin
- Click on XML sitemap under Yoast SEO option to access the dashboard
- In the XML sitemap dashboard, you would probably find the various options on the top like a general, user sitemap, post type, and more.
- In “general option” if you wish to change anything then make sure you save the changes or else we don’t recommend you to make any changes.
- Next, you can click on User sitemap (if your wordpress dashboard has multiple authors or users and you want their page to be indexed then you can enable it or leave it like that) make sure to save the changes.
- Next in the “Post Type option” you can select what type of pages and post can be indexed) if you want any of your page and post to be gated then you can click on not in sitemap option and save changes.
- In the exclude post tab you can add the post for which you don’t want to create the sitemap. Remember users and google will be able to still access and index your post. Click on save the change.
- Next In the taxonomies tab we don’t recommend making any changes.
After going through all the tabs, Next, you can head back to the General to view your XML sitemap. In the general tab yon find an option “XML Sitemap” (highlighted with blue) click on it to access your website sitemap. You will be redirected to the new page where you can view your website sitemap.
Copy the last part of the URL i.e sitemap_intex.xml so that you can submit it to the Google webmaster. Below we are going to mention how you can submit your website sitemap.
2. Create SItemap on wordpress using XML Sitemap plugin
The above method is effective and useful for users that are using or planning to use the Yoast SEO plugin. If your website is not using Yoast plugin then there is another way to create the sitemap of your web page and post using the XML Sitemap plugin.
The first and foremost step you need to take is to navigate to the plugin section in your wordpress dashboard, then download and activate the plugin. Once you successfully install and activate the plugin then the plugin automatically generates a sitemap for your website.
If you want to view the created sitemap then you can add /sitemap.com at the end of your URL. But before that, we recommend checking the plugin setting whether it’s meeting your requirement or not.
To access is setting tab:
- Navigate to the setting tab in the left menu bar
- Click on the XML sitemap option under setting
- Once you land on the dashboard then you can enable and disable the plugin form notifying search engine
- You can also increase the PHP memory limit
- In the same page, you can find an additional page option that allows you to manually add the page to the XML sitemap
- Next, you can adjust post priority (by default it uses post comment to analyze the post priority.
- In the sitemap content section, you can add and remove content from your sitemap.
Once you are done creating a sitemap for your website next you can submit the sitemap. Bow we are going to mention how you can submit your sitemap.
3. Create Sitemap Using Screaming Frog
Screaming frog is one of the well-known tools that offer a wide range of SEO tools. Using Screaming frog you can create a sitemap for your website but its free version has the limitation of 500 pages. If your website is having more than 500 pages then you can upgrade the tool to the pro version.
The fun part is that you don’t need to have the website access to create the sitemap. Scream frog allows you to change the code but it offers a user-friendly interface that comes with normal English where you can make the changes in the code.
The basic version of screaming frog comes for free but if you wish to purchase the pro version of a screaming frog then it cost you $180/year.
- Go to the screaming frog tool
- Next, enter your website URL
- If your website size is big then it may take some time to crawl your website
- Once screaming frog complete crawling your website next you will be able to view the list
- Navigate to the sitemap option on the right top corner
- Next click on create sitemap option
- Screaming frog allows you to select which section of your website you want to include in the XML sitemap.
- Once done click on next navigate to the image tab and if you wish you include images then click on the box or ignore. Click on next
- After that, you will be prompted with a box displaying the save option. Click on it to save the XML sitemap.
After creating your sitemap you can upload it via FTP. Check the below video to know how you can create and upload your sitemap.
Submit your Sitemap to Console
Whether you are creating your sitemap manually or using software and plugins to do it for your website. At last, you need to submit your sitemap to google webmaster.
If you already have signed up with google search console and connected your website with the console (webmaster). Then you can follow the below steps to submit your sitemap:
- Open your webmaster tool
- Navigate to the crawl option in the left sidebar
- Under crawl, you will different options Go to the sitemap option
- Click on the sitemap option
- Next on the right side of your page, you can find an option called “Add/text”
- Paste the URL of your website ending with .xml extension.
- Before submitting click on the test option to view your sitemap details for no errors
- One your find no errors then you can submit your sitemap.
Next google search console makes sure your sitemap is successfully uploaded and functioning. Check the below video for better understanding.
If you are looking to make your SEO strategy more effective and impactful than it’s time to create and upload XML sitemap to help search engines crawl your website more smartly. Most of the new beginner and website owners get afraid after listening to the word XML sitemap. The first thing that pops up in their mind is how many lines of code does it include and how I am gonna write it.
Yes undoubtedly, XML sitemap includes lines of codes that are created so that search engine crawler understands your website purpose. There are agencies that focus on creating an XML sitemap manually by writing lines of codes.
But you can also make use of the above-mentioned plugins and software to generate your XML sitemap within a few clicks. If you are still thinking of creating your XML sitemap in the future then we recommend doing it now for better results and ranking.