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5 Great WordPress XML Sitemap Generators To Use

Male programmer working on his website sitemap

This post is part of The Complete Guide to WordPress Technical SEO. Also in this series:

A beautiful website with well-thought-out UX and CRO elements can only take you so far. If your website cannot be properly indexed by search engines, like Google, then there’s not much point. Many valuable visitors won’t be able to find it and you won’t be able to generate more organic traffic.

As the site owner, you’ll want to do everything you can to ensure that your site, and pages, are easy to navigate by search engines, giving you the best chance of your content being discovered by your audience.

For all WordPress websites, there is a huge advantage in using an XML sitemap to assist in this. A sitemap is a file that lists all of the URLs for your site; posts, pages, and media – allowing search engines to index your site more quickly and more efficiently, ultimately boosting your search visibility.

In this blog, we’ll be answering: What is a sitemap? How can you create one? And, which sitemap generators are the best to use?

What is an XML Sitemap?

The usage of sitemaps has evolved over the years as web technologies have continued to develop. In the early 2000s, some websites would contain a link on their main pages titled ‘Sitemap’. This page usually would have been an HTML list of all the pages on that website.

While some websites today might still use an HTML sitemap, most sitemaps now are published in an XML format.XML is designed for search engines, not people.

In essence, a sitemap is a way of informing search engines of ALL the important pages that exist on your site. With an XML Sitemap, therefore, search engines like Google can better understand the pages on your site, their purpose, which are most important and your site architecture where it may be difficult to ascertain these. 

For newer sites with a sub-optimal internal linking structure and/or minimal backlinks, this helps ensure that pages are discovered and crawled. XML Sitemaps are also highly beneficial for very large websites where the quantity of pages is greater, and pages might be orphaned from other content or more difficult for a crawler to discover.
Think of an XML Sitemap as a list of the important pages on your website, which you would like search engines to crawl, index and rank. That makes an XML Sitemap a key part of your Technical SEO strategy.

Here’s what a very basic WordPress sitemap might look like, with optional tags in italics:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>

   <url>

      <loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

      <lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>

      <changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

      <priority>0.8</priority>

   </url>

</urlset>

Source

How to Create an XML Sitemap in WordPress

Sitemaps can be a major timesink to make manually and even worse to keep up to date, so it’s recommended to use a generator or plugin to create your WordPress XML sitemap. With these tools, sitemap generation can be automated, with new Posts and pages added to the sitemap every time one is added to your WordPress site.

This way, you have a reliable safety net in place to ensure that all of your website content can be crawled easily (unless you have specified certain pages to not be crawled.)

A high-quality WordPress Sitemap Plugin will remove the legwork for you, automatically bundling all of your URLs into a sitemap with no coding needed on your part. Best of all, some plugins will automatically submit your sitemaps to prominent monitoring tools like Google Search Console.

So, which are the best WordPress XML Sitemap plugins? Let’s explore our top picks.

1. Yoast SEO

Yoast is an extremely popular plugin for WordPress users that offers a range of useful functionality outside of its sitemap features. This can range from sitewide SEO, on-page SEO and, of course, sitemap management –  all with an easy-to-use interface as the cherry on top.

Core features

  • Fully automated sitemaps that refresh and upload whenever the content is changed. I.e. if a new post is added or removed
  • Accommodates posts, pages, and other media whilst allowing you to exclude specific URLs or media from the sitemap
  • Offers sitewide and on-page SEO services, too

Cons

  • A Premium version is needed to include content types other than posts, pages, and generic video and image media.

2. All In One SEO

All in One SEO is another highly used and highly regarded WordPress XML sitemaps and other encompassing SEO services, too. This sitemap generator is considered a more customisable solution, relied on by more than 2 million professionals to boost their website search rankings.

Core features

  • Features smart XML sitemaps
  • Fully automated sitemaps that are refreshed and uploaded whenever the content is changed on your site.
  • More control over which content gets excluded from your sitemap while also allowing you to easily specify important or top-converting pages to be prioritised in a crawl.
  • Functionality that supports additional sitemaps, such as a video sitemap or a news sitemap. This is especially useful if it is critical to your business that your content ranks well in video search results or Google News search results.

Cons

  • Some of their strongest functionality is locked behind their costly ‘Pro Plan’. These can include a redirection manager, a video sitemap, a news sitemap, 404 error tracking, etc.

3. Google XML Sitemaps

Google XML Sitemaps keeps things simple and delivers quality, easy-to-use WordPress XML sitemap experience. It’s the plugin of choice for those who simply need a reliable, dedicated WordPress sitemap plugin without the baggage of a comprehensive SEO plugin.

Core features

  • Fully automated sitemaps that are refreshed and uploaded whenever the content is changed on your site.
  • A more focused service focused on sitemap management while delivering a simple but effective user experience.

Cons

  • Many user reviews claim that customer support is very limited and that the plugin doesn’t receive frequent updates.

4. Sitemap by BestWebSoft

Similar to Google XML Sitemaps, this is another dedicated WordPress XML sitemap plugin. Sitemap by BestWebSoft is also focused on providing seamless XML sitemaps without additive SEO functionality for those who don’t need them. It’s a great tool with excellent functionality in its free version – ideal for those with a limited budget.

Core features

  • Fully automated sitemaps that are refreshed and uploaded whenever the content is changed on your site.
  • A more focused service focused on sitemap management while delivering a simple but effective user experience.

Cons

  • Some functionality is locked behind the incredibly useful premium version. This might be a dealbreaker for some. These include, for example, excluding pages and posts from your sitemap, setting the frequency of sitemaps, adding custom URLs to sitemaps and adding external sitemap files.

5. Jetpack

Jetpack, similar to Yoast and All In One SEO, is a WordPress sitemap plugin that offers very useful functionality outside of its sitemap offering. Jetpack offers a wide array of solutions to the common challenges faced by WordPress users. It is unique in that it delivers well-developed security solutions as well as SEO performance and analytics.

Core features

  • Automated sitemaps that refresh when content on your website changes.
  • Functionality to create four different sitemaps: public pages sitemaps, map sitemaps, image sitemaps and news sitemaps.
  • A stripped-back solution that is ideal for beginners who perhaps don’t require the most advanced sitemap customisation.

Cons

  • The general sitemap functionality that Jetpack offers is on the more limited end. For instance, users will have to submit sitemaps to search engines manually instead of them being uploaded automatically. 

In summary, sitemaps are a key aspect to consider in ensuring that your website can be crawled properly. To make the process a lot easier, it is highly recommended to manage your sitemaps through a WordPress sitemap plugin. This will allow you to automate the process by having your sitemap automatically refresh when content changes on your website and have it automatically submitted to search engines. With this, you’ll ensure that your discoverability is increased.

When considering which plugin to use, it’s important to understand your requirements. There are fantastic solutions for those who only need a dedicated sitemap plugin. However, for that might need a more comprehensive solution, some great choices offer additional SEO functionality as well.
If you’re still unsure, or if you need some expert help when it comes to managing your WordPress site, it’s always a great idea to consult a high-quality WordPress SEO agency.

WordPress XML Sitemap FAQs

Got a sitemap question? We’ve got an answer

Does WordPress have built-in XML Sitemap support?

You can create a sitemap in WordPress without a plugin or extension, but the functionality and support is very basic.

Until August 2020, WordPress didn’t feature built-in sitemaps. But in version 5.5, a basic XML sitemap feature was added to help ensure that any new website did not miss out on the SEO benefits of an XML sitemap.

This feature, however, is not flexible and lacks the key functionality that makes certain sitemap plugins so appealing to most WordPress users.

As such, we highly recommend utilising a high-quality plugin so that you can customise your sitemap to meet your needs.

How do I enable and view my XML Sitemap in Yoast SEO?

To enable and view your XML sitemap in Yoast SEO, follow these easy steps:

1. Log in to your WordPress website. Once you’re logged in, you’ll be in your ‘Dashboard’ view.

2. Click on ‘SEO’. This exists on the menu on the left-hand side.

3. On the expanded menu, click on ‘General.’

4. Select the ‘Features’ tab.

5. Toggle the ‘XML Sitemaps’ switch and select ‘Save changes’ at the bottom of the screen.

6. To view your sitemap, click on the question mark next to the ‘XML sitemaps’ text.

7. Click the ‘See the XML sitemap’ link.

How do I manually submit an XML Sitemap to Google Search Console?

To submit your XML sitemap to Google Search Console, follow these steps:

1. Sign in to Google Search Console

2. In the top left, navigate to the ‘Search property’ and select your website.

3. On the left sidebar, select the ‘Sitemaps’ menu. If you do not see it, click on the ‘Index’ drop-down and it should appear.

4. Remove any outdated or invalid sitemaps.

5. Input ‘sitemap_index.xml’ in the ‘Add a new sitemap’ field.

6. Select ‘Submit’ and you’re all done!

How do I remove a sitemap an XML Sitemap in Google Search Console?

1. Sign in to Google Search Console

2. In the top left, navigate to the ‘Search property’ and select your website.

3. On the left sidebar, select the ‘Sitemaps’ menu. If you do not see it, click on the ‘Index’ drop-down and it should appear.

4. Under ‘Submitted sitemaps’, select the sitemap you wish to remove.

5. Next, click on the three vertical dots in the top right of the page and then select ‘Remove Sitemap’

Which Sitemap format is best for SEO?

While some site owners may choose to use HTML sitemaps, the XML format is considered to be the preferred web page format for submission.

This is because not all search engines support all of the sitemap formats outside of XML. Therefore, to ensure maximum discoverability, it is best to use XML.

Similarly, sitemap generation and management tools have been optimised for this format. Search engine bots also have been optimised to read and understand XML sitemaps better as it is the most widely used format.

Should I only include canonical versions of URLs in my sitemap?

Yes.

If you have multiple pages that are very similar, such as product pages for different colours of the same product, it’s bets to use the “link rel=canonical” tag to indicate to Google which is the ‘main’ page it should crawl and index.

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