Why You Need a WordPress Sitemap

If you research the search engine optimization of your website, you will probably come across the recommendation to submit a sitemap. But what is a sitemap and how do you create one in WordPress.com?

What is a sitemap?

A sitemap is a list of every page on your website. The concept of sitemaps was first introduced by Google in 2005, with the goal of informing search engines about the URLs within a website.

The primary goal of a sitemap is to help search engines understand the structure and content of your website so that they can better crawl and index it. Sitemaps also tell search engines which links on your site are most important, and how often you update it.

Why should you have a sitemap?

Simply put, your website’s sitemap allows search engines to find all of your posts and pages. This is especially useful for new websites and blogs that don’t have a lot of backlinks (links on other sites that direct users back to your site) yet.

If your website isn’t new, a sitemap will make it easier for search engines to determine how frequently you add new content. This helps them decide how often to check your site.

With that said, having a sitemap doesn’t impact the rank of your site in search results.

How search engines use sitemaps

Search engines use sitemaps as additional information that helps them index websites. They can use sitemaps to discover URLs they previously didn’t find, and to understand which sites link to you and which sites you’re linking back to. With the help of a well-organized and up-to-date sitemap, search engines can crawl your content in a more timely fashion.

Create a sitemap in WordPress.com

There are four ways to create a WordPress sitemap:

1. Use a sitemap shortcode

Sitemap shortcode

Use the

shortcode to insert a sitemap on any page of your site. This will automatically display a list of your pages in a hierarchical, bulleted format. This method is also useful if you want an easy-to-read list of pages that can help readers navigate to pages that aren’t listed within your main menus.

2. Manually create a site index

Adding a sitemap using categories

Create a new page (with the help of the Categories menu or the Category widget) and list the categories of your site. Use this method if you blog about a variety of topics and want your readers to be able to locate them easily.

3. Sitemap XML format

Sitemap in XML format

A sitemap in XML format is used by search engines in the manner described above. WordPress.com will automatically generate a sitemap in this format for your site, and you can access it by visiting: yoursitename.wordpress.com/sitemap.xml. If you have a custom domain name, visit: yoursitedomain.com/sitemap.xml.

4. News sitemaps

News sitemap

The last type of sitemap is the News sitemap, which is similar to XML sitemaps but is used by Google News. This sitemap is also automatically generated by WordPress.com and you can find it by accessing yoursitename.wordpress.com/news-sitemap.xml.

Create your WordPress sitemap today

Having an XML sitemap on your WordPress.com website can improve user experiences by making it easier for your visitors to navigate your pages. It also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site, helping you to build an audience and generate leads. Reap the benefits of your hard work by implementing a sitemap today.

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Brenda Barron

Brenda Barron is a freelance writer, editor, and SEO specialist from southern California. She is a contributor to The Motley Fool and blogs regularly at The Digital Inkwell.

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