When managing a website, most webmasters pay much attention to the blog contents, images, website design, SEO and social sharing. These are surely the right practices to make the website successful and popular. Moreover, the easy browsing or navigation throughout the whole site is also of the same level of importance. For this aspect, you need to leverage the power of website sitemap.
Here, you need to know that the sitemap is categorized into two parts – the HTML one and the XML one. Each of them works differently and should be created in different ways. If you do not have enough knowledge about this tool, you can check the below parts that give you a beginner’s guide about WordPress sitemap, telling you the differences between the HTML sitemap and the XML sitemap, as well as the effective ways for adding them into your site.
HTML Sitemap vs XML Sitemap
It seems that both of these two options are used to ensure the easy visiting and browsing of your site, but the fact is that there are a lot of differences between them.
About the HTML Sitemap
The main function of the HTML sitemap is to improve the overall reading experience of your site. It is created using the simple HTML and will act as your site menu to give readers a visual picture of the main structure of your site. This way, people can navigate to some areas they are interested with much ease.
Note that the target of the HTML sitemap is your website visitors.
About the XML Sitemap
The XML sitemap is totally different. It cannot be viewed by the real human beings, but is a special protocol that can only be checked by the search engines. With it, the search engines can know exactly the below things of your site.
- The links of your site those are available and ready to be crawled.
- The time you are likely to publish new contents, along with the publishing frequency.
- The latest updates and activities happened on your site.
- The connection among all your webpages.
After learning these aspects easily, the searching spiders can crawl and index all your pages with the best efficiency and will not miss anything that is valuable and is of the high quality. Frankly speaking, with the useful XML sitemap, the SEO of your site can be optimized to a large degree. Especially, if your website is a newly launched one, the XML sitemap can get your site found and indexed by the searching robots within a short time.
Unlike the HTML sitemap, the target of this option is the search engines.
Create the HTML Sitemap in WordPress
When it comes to the creation of the HTML sitemap for your WordPress site, the easiest way is to utilize the sitemap plugin. Here, we suggest the WP SEO HTML Sitemap plugin. With it, you can easily and quickly create the responsive HTML sitemap for all the widely used devices, along with the full freedom to control and customize it.
Before setting up this plugin, you firstly need to publish a new or edit a current page, and then, assign it as the exclusive sitemap page.
Now, you can click Settings > SEO HTML Sitemap button in your dashboard to determine some settings as listed in the following.
- Decide which of your page is used to showcase your HTML sitemap.
- Determine where the sitemap can be located inside the page. For this part, you have 4 options – replace the original page content with the HTML sitemap, showcase the sitemap before the page content, display it below the content and use the exclusive shortcode to display the sitemap on a random location with the webpage.
- Define the number of columns you’d like to have on the sitemap page. The default columns are ranging from 1 to 4.
- Enable or disable the default CSS styles achieved by this plugin based on your needs.
- Link the HTML sitemap to your XML sitemap if you want.
As all the required settings are decided properly, now, you only need to click the Save Changes button and check your HTML sitemap from the previously chosen webpage.
Create the XML Sitemap in WordPress
When considering the creation of the XML sitemap, you can use the XML Sitemap plugin. The main reason for us to recommend this one is its simplicity as compared with some other plugins. With it, you do not need to change the folder or file permissions, tweaking some complicated plugin settings, remove or add some special files and more. Instead, only a few simple clicks are required.
Once you have installed it on your WordPress site, now, you can click Settings > XML Sitemap Settings button. Here, you are allowed to ping some search engines on your sitemap, which include Google, Bing and Ask.com. Personally, you can choose all the available options. Also, you need to give your sitemap a file name.
After that, you can decide the priority settings for your website homepage, posts, pages, archives, categories, tags and authors. The value is from 0.0 to 1.0. Note that the priority settings have no impact on the ranking of searching results. Instead, they only give search engines the suggestion that which URLs can be indexed firstly and which are indexed in the later time. In addition, once the link is indexed already, its priority value is just meaningless.
In the next step, you should enter the reading settings of your WordPress site by clicking Settings > Reading. Here, you firstly should focus on the Search Engine Visibility field and uncheck the box that will discourage all the search engines from indexing your site, and then, you need to check the box for the below XML Sitemaps field to enable the XML Sitemap index.
After that, you should scroll down to the XML Sitemap section to finish more settings.
- Whether to allow all the posts and webpages to be indexed by search engines.
- Whether to allow all the tags and categories to be indexed. Personally speaking, we do not recommend you to enable these two options unless their contents can bring the added values.
- Add some additional domain names that are allowed to be showed in the XML sitemap. By default, only your main and primary domain can be indexed. In this case, your other domains, such as the add-on domains and sub-domains, will be filtered from this sitemap automatically. However, this plugin gives you the option to include some additional domains into the same sitemap by adding the domain name without the protocol of http and https. Note that all your entered domains should or should not have the “www” at the same time.
Now, you should go back to this plugin’s settings page and click the Build Sitemap button. If you want this sitemap to be found quickly by the main search engines such as Google, you can choose to submit it manually instead of waiting for days.
For this, you can leverage the Google Webmaster tool. After verifying the website ownership using this tool, you need to click the Sitemaps button from the navigation bar, and then, hit the Add/Test sitemap button for submission.