How to create a sitemap in WordPress

How to Create a Sitemap in WordPress Without Code

Do you want to create a WordPress sitemap?

Search engines use sitemaps to quickly index your site pages and understand the relationship between each page. As such, sitemaps have a lot of search engine optimization (SEO) value for your website.

In this article, we’ll explain the importance of sitemaps and how you how to create a sitemap in WordPress.

What Is an XML Sitemap?

An Extensible Markup Language (XML) sitemap contains a list of all the URLs on your website in an XML file (a machine-readable format for search engines).

You can think of a sitemap as a blueprint for your site’s overall content structure. Without it, search engines can’t easily see how different pages of your site relate to one another.

Sitemap example in WordPress

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An XML sitemap allows you to:

  • Give search engines like Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo a quick way to discover the content on your site
  • Help these search engines determine the relative importance of each page on your site
  • Note the date each page was created or last updated, which can help with SEO
  • Make sure all of your content is discoverable and can be indexed for inclusion on search engine result pages (SERPs).

Without a sitemap, you might struggle to rank for important keywords.

With that said, let’s now see how you can generate a sitemap for your WordPress site.

How to Make a Sitemap in WordPress

WordPress automatically creates a simple sitemap for your website. However, this sitemap includes every page on your site (even no-index pages) and there’s no way of customizing it without using code.

The easiest way to generate a customized sitemap is with AIOSEO, which is the best SEO plugin for WordPress.

AIOSEO homepage

Here are the steps we’re going to go through to set up the XML sitemap for your site:

Let’s dive in.

Step 1: Install All in One SEO

To start with, install the All in One SO plugin on your WordPress site like you would any other plugin.

AIOSEO plugin

If you don’t know how, you can see this WP Beginner guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

When the plugin is installed and activated on your site, move to the next step.

Step 2: Preview Your Sitemap

Sitemaps are enabled by default in AIOSEO, but it’s always a good idea to double-check and preview your sitemap.

To do this, click on All in One SEO » Sitemap from your WordPress dashboard menu. This will directly take you to the General Sitemap settings page.

You should have the Enable Sitemap button toggled on by default.

To preview your sitemap, simply click on Open Sitemap.

AIOSEO sitemaps

This will open your sitemap index page, which will look similar to this:

XML sitemap preview AIOSEO

You can also view your sitemap in your browser. Simply add /sitemap.xml where your web URL ends to view your sitemap. For example, if your website is test.com then your WordPress sitemap URL will be: test.com/sitemap.xml

For basic websites, AIOSEO makes distinct sitemaps for your site’s posts, pages, and categories. However, if you’re an online store, your sitemap index will also include product pages.

In the next step, we’ll explore sitemap settings that allow you to customize as per your needs.

Step 3: Customize Sitemap Settings

When your scroll down to the Sitemap Settings section, the first thing you’ll see is the Enable Sitemap Indexes option, which is Enabled by default.

If you have a small website (with URLs in the hundreds, not thousands), you can disable sitemap indexes without any problems. However, we recommend enabling sitemap indexes if you have more than 1,000 URLs on your site.

To change the sitemap indexes settings on AIOSEO, you can simply use the toggle button to either Enable or Disable it.

AIOSEO sitemap indexes

If you’re unsure whether to enable sitemap indexes on your site, remember that it’s good practice to leave the sitemap indexes setting enabled so AIOSEO can organize your URLs into distinct, easily readable XML sitemaps files of a fixed number of URLs.

AIOSEO allows you to specify the maximum number of URLs to include per sitemap file. By default, the Links Per Sitemap field is set to 1,000 URLs, which is the ideal number. You should stick with this default setting since it works the best for most sites.

Links per sitemap setting

Scrolling down further, you should see settings for Post Types and Taxonomies. By default, AIOSEO makes a sitemap that includes all of your post types and taxonomies (as long as they’re not no-index).

Post types and taxonomies

We recommend leaving these settings checked.

However, if you’re experienced with SEO and have very particular requirements for your sitemap, then the good news is that AIOSEO lets you control which post types and taxonomies you’d like to include in your sitemap.

Excluding certain post types that provide no traffic value for your website can be useful, especially if you have a large website that is suffering from indexing issues.

If you want to select only particular post types, uncheck the boxes next to Post Types and Taxonomies to view options for all different types of posts on your site.

Deselected post types aioseo sitemap

Now, simply deselect those post types that you want to exclude from your WordPress sitemap.

Step 4: Additional Sitemap Settings (Optional)

AIOSEO allows advanced users to go into finer details when it comes to WordPress sitemap customization.

For instance, it lets you control the Date Archive Sitemap and Author Sitemap settings. If you scroll down from where we left in the previous step, you should see these settings:

Date and archive settings

When WordPress creates your sitemap, it includes the date and author details in the sitemap as new posts are published.

AIOSEO’s default setting keeps date and author archives disabled because these do not provide any SEO value in many cases.

However, you might want to enable archives in special cases:

  • News websites can benefit from a date archive because it can help your visitors find your posts by date.
  • Blogs with multiple authors could benefit if each author has a following of their own. This will allow search engines to index your pages by authors and enable visitors to find posts by individual authors on your site.

Advanced Sitemap Settings

At the bottom of the General Sitemap page, you can toggle on the Advanced Settings option to get even more control over your sitemap.

Here, you’ll find options to exclude any particular posts on your WordPress site, set priority and frequency scores for all of your pages, and choose whether you want to exclude images from your sitemap.

sitemap advanced settings

You can use the Priority Score to indicate how important a URL or post type is for your website relative to other pages. The priority score ranges from 0.0 (least important) to 1.0 (most important). The default priority score for all pages is 0.5.

The Frequency tells search engines how quickly a particular URL or post type is likely to change on a given page. For example, the homepage typically changes very rarely for most sites, but some blog posts might be frequently updated. You have various frequency options such as always, hourly, daily, weekly, and so on.

But remember, you don’t need to change any of these settings in the majority of cases. AIOSEO’s creates highly effective sitemaps that are perfectly capable of improving your site’s indexing rates even if you don’t change any of the default settings.

And there you have it! You now know how to create a sitemap in WordPress and make your website more easily discoverable by search engines.

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