Today, sitemaps are being published in XML unlike in the past when they were published using HTML. These sitemaps target the search engines and not the people surfing on the internet. It is easier to create one now than it used to be before. In the past, they were manually created using HTML bullet lists.
What is a Sitemap?
A sitemap is a list of pages that are on a website and are accessible to the users of the internet. It is a way of communicating with the search engines letting them know about your pages. It also tells the search engines the links that are on your website and the level of their importance. It will also reveal the rate at which you update your website. However, they do not boost your rankings on the search engines but only allow better crawling of your pages.
Why a sitemap?
It is very important if you are using the SEO strategy as your internet marketing tool. Although it does not boost your rankings, you will be able to let the search engines know that some or all of your pages are not indexed. The search engines will be able to index them.
It is also important if your website is new. Most of the new websites do not get many backlinks to their individual pages making it harder for the search engines to discover their pages. A sitemap will allow your website help the search engines crawl it efficiently.
If your website is very popular, the sitemap will enable it interact with the search engines efficiently. The search engines will be able to tell how often you update your site, the parts that are frequently updated than others and set your indexing rate. Nonetheless, sitemaps will improve the visibility of your website.
How to create one?
There are several methods that are available for creating the sitemaps. You can use the Yoast WordPress plugin. This plugin will allow you optimize your website, create a sitemap and offer you the social integration option. It works best as compared to the other available options. It also offers the custom sitemaps e.g. the video sitemaps.
To add the sitemap, download, install and activate the plugin. WordPress SEO does not enable the sitemap functionality and so you need to turn it on. To do so, go SEO, select the XML Sitemaps and check the box. After, the WordPress SEO will give you several options that you can use to configure your sitemaps. Ignore these configuration messages and save the changes you have made. The sitemaps will be automatically generated and are accessible by the public.
To let the search engines know your sitemaps, go to Google Search Console. On the right side you will Sitemaps option. Click on the Add/Test Sitemap, enter your sitemap and submit it. If the sitemap is for a new site, you will have to wait for some time to see the index status. You will be able to see how many URLs are submitted using your sitemap and how many links have been indexed.