A sitemap is similar to a real map. It's essentially an e-map for search engines, that helps search engines find and access every nook and cranny of your website easily. If your website is large or has a lot of content under different categories then it can make it difficult for search engines to navigate and locate content in order to present to the user. A sitemap will also take into account your websites’ rich media information and metadata. This helps search engines understand what your website is all about and also the importance of particular URLs on your website relative to other URLs on the same site.
In short, it's definitely better to have a sitemap than it is to not to have one. They make a search engine’s job a bit easier and most web admins who submit their sitemaps tend to benefit from it more often than not. In this article, we'll demonstrate how you can make your own sitemap in minutes.
The easiest way to create a sitemap is to use the Yoast SEO plugin to generate one. Sitemap generation is typically enabled by default with Yoast, however, it isn’t enough to merely create a sitemap – search engines need to be notified of the change. Thankfully, Yoast makes this easy for you and will automatically ping Google and Bing.
Yoast SEO also produces an XML stylesheet which can be read as an HTML file. The importance of this lies in the fact that you can actually verify that the right URLs are represented and included with appropriate priority in the sitemaps.
It's very important to make sure that your sitemap is frequently updated, or at least as frequently as you publish new posts on your website. As you can see within the stylesheet above, each URL has its own priority rating along with a frequency for sitemap generation, the number of images contained within the page and the last change date specified. This information is crucial to your search engine ranking as Google uses factors such as freshness, the frequency of change and how often you change your website when it comes down to determining search engine rankings.
If you do not use Yoast SEO on your WordPress website then don't fear, there is another really easy way to create a sitemap for your site. Let me introduce the XML Sitemap Generator. This plugin creates a sitemap which is stored and made available to search engine crawlers. As you can see from the screenshot below, the website’s sitemap is stored on arnebranchhold.de/sitemap.xml.
Just like Yoasts, this free plugin notifies Google and Bing when changes are made to your sitemap. With the XML Sitemap Generator plugin, you can specify which parts of your website are included in your sitemap. Similarly, you can also exclude specific posts and certain categories.
As the emphasis on developing better search algorithms grows stronger, so too does the importance of having a sitemap. Having a well-developed sitemap can help search engine crawlers act more efficiently and intelligently and will give you more control over how Google and others recognise your website. Because of this, we strongly recommend generating a sitemap as it only benefits your website.