There are many SEO tips and tricks that help in optimizing a site but one of those, the importance of which is sometimes underestimated is sitemaps. Sitemaps, as the name implies, are just a map of your site – i.e. on one single page you show the structure of your site, its sections, the links between them, etc. Sitemaps make navigating your site easier and having an updated sitemap on your site is good both for your users and for search engines. Sitemaps are an important way of communication with search engines. While in robots.txt you tell search engines which parts of your site to exclude from indexing, in your site map you tell search engines where you’d like them to go.
There are two types of sitemaps: one meant for visitors of your website, and one for search engine spiders.
Sitemaps for Visitors
The first type of sitemap is probably very familiar to you. It’s a webpage that shows an overview of all the content on a website. You can see an example here of our own Visual Script sitemap.
This type of sitemap is very useful as it allows your visitors to quickly find what they’re looking for without having to go through your website’s navigation. Especially for large websites, it’s recommended to have a well-structured sitemap that is linked from every page on your site, for example in your website’s footer.
Sitemaps for Search Engines
The second type of sitemap is a so-called XML sitemap. This type of sitemap is specifically intended for search engines, and it does roughly the same: allowing search engines to find all the content on your website quickly and easily.
Why bother with an XML sitemap then, if it’s the same as a normal sitemap? Because an XML sitemap allows you to include extra information about the content on your site, such as:
- when a webpage was last updated
- how often a webpage is usually updated
- what the priority of a webpage is relative to other pages on your site
- what type of content a webpage contains (text, video, etc)
An XML sitemap allows a search engine to quickly and efficiently index all the content on your website, making sure your site is fully spidered and all your content is part of a search engine’s index.
Google recommends every site includes an XML sitemap. You can create an XML sitemap yourself manually, or you could have one generated automatically
3 Ways to Add a Sitemap Page in WordPress
The first is pretty simple: If your WordPress Theme (like Standard Theme, the one I’m using) comes with a page template for a sitemap then all you have to do is create a new page, choose the page template, and then hit publish.
The second way is to use a WordPress Plugin.
The third way: Create your own Sitemap Page Template!