What is a sitemap and how do I create one for my website?
What is a sitemap?
The sitemap is a file that contains all the URLs of a website, as well as a series of information such as the number of images each has or the date of the last modification.
This file has an XML format and becomes an index with all the web pages. Each time you publish a new page or entry, its URL is included in the sitemap along with the rest.
The function of the sitemap is that both Google and the rest of the search engines have an updated list with all the URLs of your website to be able to easily access them and index them in the search engine.
I already explained the importance of indexing the pages of your website in Google, so creating a sitemap and sending it to Google is a task that you have to do if you want to work your website’s SEO.
Advantages of Creating a sitemap
Google mainly reaches the pages or entries of your website through the links that point to them, whether they are links that you put on other pages of your website or links that put other websites to yours.
Imagine you publish a new page and do not link it from any other. Neither Google nor the other search engines would have access to that page and would not know its existence.
In this way you will not need to find links to your pages to discover them, you will simply look at the sitemap and see that you have added a new page, go to visit it and index it.
In the same way, you will know when you have updated a page, you will enter to see the changes you have made and will act accordingly (improve the position of that page, include it for searches of other similar keywords, or whatever).
How to create a sitemap
If you use WordPress, creating a sitemap is very easy thanks to the help of some of the plugins there are for it.
A simple plugin that allows you to create sitemaps is Google XML Sitemaps.
Its operation is simple, you just have to install it and go to “Settings – XML-sitemap”. There you will see all the options available for the map of your site, which are already selected by default in a very optimal way, so you do not need to change anything if you do not know very well what to touch.
To see the map of your site you have to click on “The URL to your sitemap index file is: https://yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml.”
This is a good plugin to create your sitemap, BUT …
If you want more options to improve the SEO of your website, my recommendation is that instead of Google XML Sitemaps you install Yoast SEO, the best plugin to work on your website’s SEO, and one of the best WordPress plugins.
Install it and go to the new tab that appears in your administration panel “SEO – XML Site Maps”.
If it is not, activate the XML site map functionality to generate one for you.
Through the different tabs, you can choose the content that will be included in the sitemap of your website. Depending on each type of project, you may want to add or not add WordPress categories and tags, media, etc.
If you are not sure you can leave it as it comes by default, but make sure that the entries and the page are included, since that is where the vast majority of the content of your website will be and you are interested in being indexed.
How to submit the sitemap to Google
Now that you have created the map of your website, you have to send it to Google so that you have access to it and know at all times how many URLs you have published, when you make changes to them, when you publish new content, etc.
To know how to send it, continue reading this section of the entry in which I explained how to index a website in Google.
There you will find everything you need to know to send it to Google using the Yoast SEO plugin, but if you use the Google XML sitemaps or any other it will serve you the same.