A sitemap is a very important element for having a decent search engine ranking. If you have not created a sitemap yet, I suggest you create a sitemap today and submit it to the search engines.
Don’t know how to create a sitemap? Don’t worry, that’s what I will discuss in my post today. There are lots of free plugins for creating a sitemap of your WordPress site. I will use Google XML Sitemaps for this tutorial.
Installing the Plugin
First of all, download and install Google XML Sitemaps in your website. Activating the plugin will create a new sub-menu titled ‘XML-Sitemap’ under the Settings menu.
In order to access the plugin configurations page, go to Settings > XML-Sitemap from your website dashboard. You will be taken to a page like the following –
The actual configuration options start from the ‘Basic Options’ section. There, the first two options will let you inform Google and Bing whenever you make any update in your blog. Being powered by Bing, your updates will be sent to Yahoo too.
Next one, ‘Add sitemap URL to the virtual robots.txt file’ will add the sitemap URL to your robots.txt file. Doing this will be helpful for search engines that do not support ping notifications like Yandex, Baidu, etc.
The ‘Advanced options’ section is not intended for beginners. Therefore, I will skip this section for now.
In this section, you can add URLs or files which don’t belong to your website but you still want to include them in the sitemap. To do that, click ‘Add new page’. Provide the URL, select priority, change frequency and optionally, provide when the page was last changed. To remove an existing page, click the ‘X’ button after the page.
In this section, you can select how your posts should be prioritized. You will have three options here. The first one, ‘Do not use automatic priority calculation’ lets you provide same priority for all the posts. The next two options will let you give priority based on the comment count or comment average.
This section allows you to customize the content of the sitemap. By default, all of your posts, static pages and the home page will be selected. You can also choose to include the tags, categories, archives, author pages by checking the respective boxes.
As the name suggests, this section lets you specify which content should not be included in the sitemap. You can select specific categories or provide post ID’s.
This section lets you provide a hint to search engines about the update frequency of your various posts and pages. You can customize the change frequency for your website’s home page, posts, categories, archive, tags, categories and author pages. Available options include always, hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and never.
Like the previous section, this one is also used to provide search engines with a hint. But this time, the hint is about the importance of your content. Keep in mind that the values are in proportion of others. Therefore, valuing all the elements 1.0 (which is the highest value) won’t do anything. Rather, you should give 1.0 to the most important content of your website (which is most probably your home page) and 0.1/0.2 to the least important content.
After making all the necessary changes, click ‘Update Options’. In the next screen, you will be provided with a notice saying ‘Configuration updated’. You will also find a link to your sitemap. Clicking the link will open your sitemap.
So, that is how you create a sitemap by using the Google XML Sitemaps plugin. That was simple, right? However, if you are still confused about any step discussed above, feel free to leave a comment below. I will try my best to help you.
By the way, don’t forget to share the post with your friends.