You need to take advantage of as many SEO hacks possible when it comes to getting your website ranked. Creating a sitemap is one of the useful techniques to index your site on Search Engines quickly.
Are you wondering what sitemap is, and how to add it to your WooCommerce website?
From an SEO standpoint, every site should have a sitemap. In this tutorial, we will show you how to build a sitemap.
What is a sitemap?
You create a lot of excellent content on your website. But that content is only valuable to humans and search engines when they can find it.
A sitemap helps you accomplish that by essentially giving search engines and humans a map of all content on your website. It helps to make an essential tool for them (both usability and search engine).
Why do you need to create a sitemap for your WooCommere store?
A sitemap tells search engine crawlers about the structure of your website. Whenever you add something new to your site (whether it’s a new page, a new blog post, or a product), your sitemap is updated and communicates with web crawlers to tell search engine. It shows the search engine that there is something new on your website.
The content on your site will eventually be crawled by the search engine, even without a sitemap. But some pages may not be indexed if your website structure is not well-organized. On the other hand, a sitemap will make crawling your site much sooner and easier.
Now the question is how to generate a sitemap for your WordPress site.
Keep reading this guide. Below, we will show you how you can create an XML sitemap.
What is an XML sitemap?
An XML sitemap is a list of different pages on a website. XML is a short form of Extensible Markup Language, a way to display information on a site.
You want Google to crawl every essential page of your website. But, sometimes pages end up without any internal links pointing to them. That makes them very hard to find.
However, an XML sitemap lists a website’s essential pages to make sure Google can find and crawl them all. It helps to understand your site structure.
Note: an XML sitemap is not typically visible to your site visitors, unlike a regular sitemap that is made for people.
What websites need an XML sitemap?
Google’s documentation says XMP site maps are beneficial when –
- When your site is vast.
- Your site is new and has few external links to it.
- When your site has a lot of rich media content (images, videos, etc.).
- Your site has an extensive archive of content pages that are isolated or not well linked to each other.
These types of websites will benefit the most from an XML. However, we think every site needs Google to be able to know when they are last updated.
How to create an XML sitemap in WordPress?
There are a couple of ways that you can use to make an XML sitemap for your website. But here, we will show two popular methods to create an XML sitemap in WordPress. You can choose anyone that works best for you.
Creating an XML sitemap using the Yoast SEO plugin.
It is one of the easiest ways to create an XML sitemap in WordPress is using the Yoast SEO plugin.
The main benefit to use Yoast for sitemap is that it updates automatically (dynamic sitemap).
Yoast SEO creates an XML sitemap for your website automatically. First, you need to install and active the plugin. Here is a step by step guide on how to install WordPress plugins.
Once activated, head to General from the SEO option and then select the ‘Features’ tab.
Then you need to scroll down to the ‘XML Sitemap’ and make the option turned on. Click on the Save Changes button to store your changes.
Next, click on the question mark icon next to the XMP sitemaps option on the page.
To view your live XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO, click on the ‘See the XML Sitemap’ link.
You can also find your XML sitemap by merely adding sitemap_index.xml at the end of your website URL. For example – http://home.test/sitemap_index.xml
Yoast SEO plugin creates multiple sitemaps for different types of content. By default, it will generate sitemaps for pages, posts, and categories.
Nevertheless, if you run WooCommerce online store, it will also generate a sitemap for your products.
Create an XML sitemap using Google XML Sitemaps plugin
If you don’t want to use Yoast SEO’s XML sitemaps feature, this method is recommended.
First, you need to install and active the plugin. You can check this step by step guide on how to install WordPress plugins.
Once you have activated the plugin, it will automatically generate an XML sitemap for your website.
You can view it merely adding sitemap.xml to your website’s address. For example – http://home.test/sitemap.xml
For most blogs and business websites, this plugin works out of the box. You can review the plugin settings to make sure that you are not missing anything.
Head to XML- Sitemap under Settings to configure the plugin.
The plugin will give you status information at the top. Also, it will notify you if the plugin is unable to ping any search engine.
You can check the plugin’s primary options, though the default settings would work for most of the hosting environments.
On the next step, you will see the Additional Pages section. You can manually add pages to your XML sitemap. If your website has static HTML pages not created by the WordPress CMS, this comes in handy.
Now you can adjust how the plugin assigns priority to posts. By default, it uses the number of comments of the post to calculate the priority.
The next two sections of the plugin’s settings page allow you to include and exclude content from your WordPress sitemap. For example, you would want to add the ‘Products’ content type to your sitemap.
After that, you can adjust the priority and frequency of your sitemap contents. Based on their criteria, search engines may choose to follow or ignore these tags.
Lastly, click on the ‘Update options’ to save your changes.
You will need to submit the main sitemap index file for submitting the sitemap to search engines.
How to submit your XML sitemap to Google?
Before you submit your sitemap to Google, you need to verify your website with Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t verified your site with Google Webmaster Tools, then you can follow this guide to verify.
First, you need to sign in to your Google Search Console to submit your sitemap. Once you have logged in, click on the website property where you want to add a sitemap.
You can follow this guide to easily add and verify your site in Google Search Console.
Click on Sitemaps from the left bar from your account dashboard. Now you need to enter the last part of your sitemap URL under the Add new sitemap field and hit Submit button.
You will start to see information on your sitemap on this page if everything is set up correctly.
Click under Submitted Sitemaps once Google has crawled your sitemap.
If it shows the ‘Sitemap index successfully,’ that means Google has crawled your sitemap successfully.
The report will show you how many URLs Google found in your sitemap and ended up in the Google index.
You can check the search coverage by clicking on the Coverage link. It will show you how many URLs Google found in your sitemap.
The chart will also show you actual URLs excluded or not indexed by Google.
We hope now you can create an XML sitemap for your website by following the given guidelines.
You need to create a sitemap for your website if you are ready to take your SEO strategy to the next level. Make sure you properly format, compress and submit your XML sitemap to get the most advantages.